Support frontline Metro transit workers’ call for urgent measures to stem COVID19 spread

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Support frontline Metro transit workers’ call for urgent measures to stem COVID19 spread

Thank you for signing this letter. 56+ transit workers sent this out on April 7 after a press conference. Your support is vital.

Follow up by calling Dow Constantine at 206-263-9600 and Metro GM Rob Gannon at 206-553-3000.

To King County Council, King County Executive Dow Constantine,
Metro General Manager Rob Gannon, and Metro Ombudsman

We, the undersigned call on King County government to immediately implement the following emergency measures to help contain the spread of coronavirus on our public transit system.

1) Full transparency and disclosure of coronavirus cases in the workplace, throughout the system; Rescind the policy, stated in a March 23, 2020 General Manager’s Bulletin, that “unless the employee was symptomatic in the workplace, we are not providing notifications to immediate coworkers.” Equally unacceptable in the same bulletin is Metro’s stated policy that “we will not be announcing or addressing every new illness or positive case in the workplace.” This violates the most basic worker protections, and puts not only transit workers at unnecessary risk, but also the riders we are transporting.

2) On a daily basis, clean, sanitize and change the filters of every bus that goes into service. Provide full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safe practices training for all workers involved in cleaning buses. Because this virus is communicated primarily through respiratory droplets, clean air filter systems are fundamental to curbing the spread of COVID19. As well, to further protect riders and drivers, provide PPE to all transit operators for assisting riders with disabilities, when social distancing rules are not practicable. Guarantee access to handwashing stations and break times to use the stations.

3) 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 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.

Going into this crisis, King County Metro has failed to live up to its Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan. Inequity, discrimination, and injustice have been allowed to thrive, while management remains immovable and indifferent, and even retaliates against employees who raise problems or concerns. This culture impairs safety under normal circumstances, and now has created a highly toxic work environment that jeopardizes the lives of workers and the riding public.

It is critical now, more than ever, that Metro management turns this around, listen to its front line workers, and step up and provide the basic elements of a safe environment for workers and riders. We are all in this together. We won’t be able to flatten the curve unless everyone does their part.