More transit workers are getting assaulted while on the job, according to their union.
In the midst of a bitter contract dispute with the MTA, the union representing roughly 40,000 bus and subway workers is pushing new numbers showing a 39% increase in assaults compared with the same period last year.
“No other employer on the planet would tolerate such horrific abuse of its workers,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said in a statement. “Where is the MTA leadership? Where is Chairman Patrick Foye? A transit worker is attacked in the subway every three days — and you don’t hear a peep out of this guy.”
There were 85 assaults recorded through August of this year, up from 61 assaults through August last year. The MTA is on pace to record more than 120 transit worker assaults this year, compared with 102 in 2018 and 105 the year before, according to the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
The assault data were pulled from an MTA “Lost Time Accident Report,” which documents the cause for employees’ missed work, the TWU said. “Assault” is one cause category, alongside others like “slips, trips and falls;” “struck by an object” and “smoke inhalation.”
Workers have been at their jobs without a union contract since May. Last month, TWU published details from the MTA’s confidential contract on its website and lambasted the proposal as “insulting.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has a hand in overseeing negotiations between the union and the MTA, has made an issue of the assaults as well.
In June, the governor announced that the state and city would flood the subways and buses with 500 additional law enforcement agents redeployed from other divisions to crack down on fare evasion and to combat assaults against workers, with the additional officers deployed within days of the announcement. The MTA in addition is also moving to hire 500 new MTA police officers.
MTA Spokesman Tim Minton said in a statement that the assaults were a “real concern” and that officials at the transit agency have begun pushing for stiffer penalties of assailants.
“Transit President Andy Byford personally met this month with Manhattan DA Cy Vance to work towards more aggressive prosecution of, and maximum sentences for, perpetrators,” Minton said. “The MTA is also addressing fare evasion and homeless residing in the subways, along with other quality of life issues because the subway experience must improve for riders and employees.”