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TTD Applauds Federal Rule to Protect Transit Workers From Assault

By Admin

WASHINGTON – Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement in response to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement of a final rule outlining changes to Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans to better protect frontline transit workers:

“For years, transit workers and unions have sounded the alarm about the need for stronger federal protections against verbal and physical assaults in the workplace. We welcome this federal action to continue addressing the ongoing epidemic of transit worker assault by requiring public transit agencies to implement safety committees, safety risk reduction programs, and safety performance targets. Importantly, the rule ensures that workers will have a seat at the table in decisions about their workplace safety. We are pleased that the rule requires management to comply with the recommendations of joint labor-management safety committees by removing management’s veto power. We are also heartened that the rule contains strong enforcement mechanisms by tying a public transit agency’s compliance with the safety actions to their eligibility for federal funding.

“Transit workers experience the risks of the job daily, and have made it clear that their safety is a key concern that must be addressed. Worker safety is inherently necessary to ensure the safe operation of our transit systems and the passengers who rely on buses, passenger and commuter rail, and other services. For example, assaults that occur while a bus is moving may cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, putting pedestrians, passengers and other vehicles in imminent danger. As more than half of the bus operator workforce is currently eligible to retire, worker safety is a key component to attract and retain new hires for this essential workforce. Public transit professionals who are currently in the workforce and future workers deserve to perform their duties without fear of harm or aggression.

“While transit workers and unions have fought for safety actions for decades, the alarming increase in these assaults has only heightened the need for stronger federal safety regulations. According to federal data, assaults against transit workers have increased more than 120% in recent years. In the FAST Act of 2015, transportation labor fought for a provision that required the FTA to publish a rule to better protect public transportation operators from assaults, including through more accurate data collection. Historically, federal data on transit worker assaults has not adequately captured the scope of the issue, with transit agencies only required to document assaults that led to ‘serious injury’, excluding incidents like broken fingers and first-degree burns. Still, that rule was never implemented by previous Administrations so transportation labor fought for additional transit worker protections in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which culminated in the rule we see today.

“For too long, federal regulations have shortchanged transit worker safety. We thank President Biden for righting this historic wrong by ensuring that his Administration delivered this essential transit worker safety rule. We look forward to continuing to partner with Secretary Pete Buttigieg to ensure the strongest possible safety standards in the public transit industry.”