Pressure King County Metro to Increase COVID-19 Protections for Transit Workers

Pressure King County Metro to Increase COVID-19 Protections for Transit Workers

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COVID-19 Mutual Aid started this petition to County Executive Dow Constantine and

We love King County Metro workers, who provide essential transit services to so many of us in these difficult times. It saddens us to hear of the loss of one Metro driver due to COVID-19, and this petition is written from a place of deep hope that Metro will act swiftly to improve workplace protections so we will not lose any more of Metro’s heroic drivers, cleaners, and mechanics to this virus. 

To that end, we believe the King County Council, County Executive Dow Constantine, and Metro General Manager Rob Gannon must do more to protect Metro workers from COVID-19. To shift to a pattern of deep support for workers and help prevent more frontline worker deaths, we ask you to join us in pressuring the County and Metro to do the following:  

  • Keep it Fare Free until a Vaccine is Available: Commit to continued back door boarding and fare free transit until all bus drivers have an opportunity to access a COVID-19 vaccine. Just because the state is starting to lax some of its rules around sheltering in place does not mean Metro should return to front door boarding with payment, which unnecessarily exposes passengers and bus drivers. This extended commitment will demonstrate Metro’s seriousness when it comes to protecting its drivers.
  • Implement Hazard Pay: Institute hazard pay in the form of 40 hours pay for 30 hours work for all transit workers who are serving in harm’s way. Better distribution of work and less time on the job means less exposure, and less of the stress that can undermine workers’ immune systems. 
  • Provide Quarantine Wages: Provide full wages for all high-risk workers who are forced to stay at home and/or are caring for dependents, until it is safe to return to work. Our drivers, mechanics, and cleaners, especially those who are over 60 years old and/or are immunocompromised, deserve this form of workplace protection that doesn’t require a choice between a paycheck and unsafe health risks. 
  • Offer a Line of Duty Death Benefit: Follow the lead of New York City’s MTA by paying $500,000 in a lump sum to next-of-kin who lose loved ones who contract the virus due to being a Metro worker. 
  • Turn Vacant Hotels into Temporary Housing: San Francisco is offering 7,000 hotel rooms to help people shelter in place! Work with County leaders to follow the lead of San Francisco by entering contracts with empty hotels to offer shelter to people who are houseless. Buses are used frequently as shelter for people who cannot shelter in place right now due to unstable housing. The county is failing houseless people and bus drivers by allowing empty buildings and empty rooms to exist during an epidemic. Buses are one of the few public services available for shelter during a pandemic, which places extra stress on bus drivers and on people who are unstably housed. Extra security will not solve the problem of people using the bus for shelter, more housing will. 
  • Reinstitute Bus Runs to Ensure Social Distancing is Possible: Certain geographical areas in King County have a higher concentration of people who are transit dependent than others. The answer to social distancing on buses is to ensure enough runs of each route are operating, rather than policing the number of people on a bus or attempting to determine whether an individual is conducting essential business. Please continue to work with drivers to assess which routes need to be added back to ensure social distancing is possible. This will ensure Metro is doing a good job of serving our elderly and disabled community members, as well as our community members who rely on public transit to get around.  
  • Provide Testing Access: Provide consistent access to testing for all employees. If tests are in short supply, this could potentially happen through a partnership with Fred Hutch COVIDWatch (which is doing a study on COVID-19 and frontline workers) to help as many Metro workers as possible access testing. 
  • Offer Transparency about Positive Cases: Provide full transparency and disclosure of confirmed COVID-19 cases to all employees so people who may have been exposed can get tested or stay home. Metro employees have a right to know this information. This information should be updated daily and distributed directly to every Metro employee. 
  • Implement County Emails for All Metro Workers: Automatically enroll all drivers, mechanics, and bus cleaners to have King County emails. It is unacceptable that, during a time of rapidly shifting Metro policy, social distancing, and attempted minimization of time spent at the base, the only way Metro can communicate with all employees is by a bulletin that people have to be at the base to read in person. It is not enough to offer Metro workers a convoluted and confusing process to sign up for an email if they want one. The fact Metro workers do not automatically get emails is rooted in a systemic discriminatory practice that treats an entire sector of blue collar workers different from white collar workers at the county. This needs to change.
  • Provide PPE for All: Purchase and distribute PPE for all Metro workers, with a specific focus on a regular supply of masks. If cloth masks need to be used as an intermediary before N-95 masks can be made available due to a short supply, there should be five per driver so people can drive for a week and use a fresh mask each day. If Metro cannot find a good supplier for N-95 masks due to a shortage of masks, it can continue to contract with local groups to make cloth masks that can integrate a coffee filter until a plentiful supply of N-95 masks is available. While Metro has stated that it has purchased masks, many drivers from the larger bases still have never received even one mask from Metro since the pandemic started. This is unacceptable. 

Metro workers should not have to choose between paying rent, taking care of children, elders and family members with compromised immune systems, and protecting each other and the community at large from exposure. We want Metro to shine as an employer that does everything possible during a global pandemic to keep its workers safe, healthy, paid and alive. We sincerely believe taking the action steps listed above will make Metro a safer place to work, which will benefit frontline workers, their families, and community members who depend on transit to get around.  


Sincerely,

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Seattle Organizers + Supporters (which includes concerned bus drivers and bus riders)

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!