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The ATU and TWU to Congress: Hero Transit Workers Deserve Hazard Pay

The leaders of the two largest public transit unions in the nation, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), are calling on Congress to include hazard pay for frontline workers in an upcoming reconciliation bill.

In a letter written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, ATU International President John Costa and TWU International President John Samuelsen stressed the critical role that transit workers played during the pandemic.

“While most Americans hunkered down at home during the height of the pandemic, our bus operators, mechanics, station agents, cleaners, and other transit workers reported to work every day, putting their lives on the line so that essential workers could get to hospitals and pharmacies to keep the rest of us alive.”

The letter thanks Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer for their leadership in the House and Senate in securing nearly $70 billion in COVID relief funds to keep transit systems running, but stresses the importance of hazard pay for workers who made incredible sacrifices and risked their lives throughout the pandemic.

“During the crisis, we were praised as heroes. Now, however, it seems that America is ready to move on,” reads the joint letter. “At the bargaining table, it seems we have transformed from heroes to zeroes. While we appreciate the ticker-tape parades and other public applause for frontline workers, our members deserve nothing less than the COVID-19 ‘Heroes Fund’ proposal which House and Senate Democrats put forth to reward, retain, and recruit essential workers.”

Costa and Samuelsen, who collectively represent hundreds of thousands of transit workers, are therefore urging Congress to include hazard pay in the pending reconciliation bill as the last opportunity to properly recognize the true heroes of America’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The Heroes Fund proposal in the upcoming budget legislation would do just that.