Media Center

Apr 26

On Workers’ Memorial Day and the National Day of Mourning, Transit Workers Call for Better Protection

On Workers’ Memorial Day and the National Day of Mourning, Transit Workers
Call for Better Protection

On this Workers’ Memorial Day in the U.S. and National Day of Mourning in Canada, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) honors those transit workers who tragically lost their lives on the job and calls for better protection for transit workers, riders, and pedestrians.

ATU headquarters at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center is home to the AFL-CIO National Workers Memorial.

In recent years, more than 55 transit workers have lost their lives on the job. Winnipeg bus operator Irving "Jubal" Fraser, Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, was stabbed to death by an angry rider in February 2017. Bus mechanic Jake Schwab, Local 568-Erie, PA, was tragically killed by an equipment malfunction in 2014. Pierce Transit maintenance mechanic Roy Stevens  Local 758-Tacoma, WA, was  killed February 21, 2017, after a fellow employee ran him over while moving a bus at the transit agency’s Lakewood headquarters. Here’s a list of transit workers killed on the job.

“While we must take time to mourn those transit workers whose lives were taken, it is imperative we take the necessary action to eliminate workplace fatalities and injuries for transit workers and improve safety for riders and pedestrians,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley.

Unfortunately, knife-wielding passengers, verbal abuse, unhealthy exhaust fumes, and unhealthy workstations have become a routine part of the job for public transit workers.

“Our members do difficult work with professionalism each day, yet vicious attacks on our members by angry and violent riders, poisonous fumes, ergonomically-poor seating, and primitive steering controls are threatening the health and safety of our members, riders, and everyone else on our streets,” Hanley continued.

ATU has been engaged in an unprecedented campaign with transit workers from Toronto, ON, to Oakland, CA, and Jacksonville, FL, to Saskatoon, SK, to demand major safety changes in transit systems across North America.

In the U.S., the ATU is calling for passage of the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act. This legislation would provide more protection by requiring transit agencies to create risk reduction plans, install physical barriers to protect drivers, and retrofit or replace buses with left-side blind spots. Also, it would require transit agencies to report on a wider range of incidents. The bill is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, with more than 100 members of Congress co-sponsoring the bill. ATU encourages all Americans to call their Member of Congress to ask them to sponsor this bill.

“No one should have to live in fear that they might die or even get hurt at work. On this Workers’ Memorial Day and National Day of Mourning, the ATU renews its commitment to fight for a safe workplace for transit workers, riders, and pedestrians.”