New York, New York – An ad campaign by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 calling for safer work conditions and a pay raise is rejected by MTA for being too “political.”
The ads, showing bloodied injuries of assault victims, highlight the dangers that transit workers face in their line of work and are expected to generate support for the union’s request for higher wages. “Every 36 hours, a transit worker is assaulted on the job,” the advertisement reads. “We deserve a wage increase for our sacrifices.”
The union members were prepared to spend $190,000 on the campaign to feature the posters of their members being beaten up while on the line of duty. The ads were to run in 120 subway stations across the city for eight weeks. The glitch? MTA has banned them.
This action is in line with a new policy that the MTA launched in Spring 2015, in which they voted to reject ads that promote a political party or is political in nature. One provision includes ads that prominently advocates “an opinion, position, or viewpoint regarding disputed economic, political, moral, religious or social issues or related matters.”
New York City transit workers face potential harassment, assault, and even death in their line of work. In a 12-month period ending in October 31, 2015, MTA workers filed 2,176 harassment complaints with the NYPD – up 11% from the 12-month period before. This includes behavior such as kicking and spitting.
TWU officials also claimed that an estimated 250 of their union members suffer an assault while on the job every year. Since 2001, 13 of their members have died in their line of duty, including bus operators Edwin Thomas and William Pena who were murdered.
In response to the harassment, assault, and death cases, New York State increased the penalty for assaulting transit workers. On August 19, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that raised the crime from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony charge. Violators may face up to 7 years in prison. In addition to train and bus operators, the law also covers subway and station cleaners.
However, transit workers still find unsafe work conditions that endanger their lives. In a rally last week, several thousand TWU Local 100 members congregated at the MTA headquarters in lower Manhattan to hear President John Samuelsen lay out contract demands that include annual raises ahead of the rate of inflation and improvements to workplace safety. In Samuelsen’s speech, he noted that occupational safety is still a major issue, as five transit workers a day are hurt bad enough that it causes them to miss work.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are aware of the very real dangers that transit workers and commuters can face on public transportation every day. Promoting worker safety is at the heart of what we do, by holding those financially accountable who permit unsafe work conditions to exist. Our attorneys have recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our injured clients, many of whom were hurt because they were forced to work in unsafe conditions. If you’ve faced a work injury, please feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation by email or by calling 212-736-5300.