To All TWU Local 252 Members
First and most importantly I want to wish everyone of our Union brothers and sisters to stay healthy and safe. If this Coronavirus should attack you or your family members know that we are all praying for you to have the strength to battle this virus and recover from it.
Some of the steps I have been taking to keep you safe has been from the very onset of this virus communicating with all companies that employ our members. I have required them to provide sanitizing of the vehicles as well as supplies to our members. As supplies have decreased, I have been communicating the need for replenishing the necessary supplies. As I am sure you have all heard on the news that there is a shortage of these supplies.
School Bus Division has been a hard-hit section of this union with school closings. First Student is paying the guaranteed weeks. The district they service is paying on its transportation contract with the understanding that the drivers would deliver meals to bus stops for the children in need of their meals. This began today March 25th with 50 of our dedicated members and family members serving their community and we Thank You. Other companies have no guarantee of payment which is where I have been working diligently to correct.
I have been in contact with and getting assistance from John Samuelsen our TWU International President, NYS AFL CIO, Long Island Federation of Labor, New York State Attorney General’s office and the New York State Bus Company Association. We have all been working together since early last week on getting the State Education Department to guarantee the State Funding to the districts with the understanding that the districts would pay their Bus contractors who would then be required to pay their employees. All this is being done to try to keep all employees of school bus companies employed. Each company is handling this differently however all have the same goal: to get paid so they can pay you. Until this happens many of our members (approximately 3,000) are now receiving unemployment benefits and do not know when they will return to getting paid by their company. Each company is notifying their employees as things change. There is a law firm that is calling school districts threatening to sue if the districts pay which is what has put this in a precarious situation.
Public Transit has been a very different situation since service has continued, keeping all at greater risk of contracting COVID 19. I have pushed for rear boarding of all passengers for added protection as well as increase of sanitizing the vehicles and providing gloves and masks as supplies last. Even with decreasing ridership Suffolk County at this time has not made any changes to their service still getting fares through usage of the app whenever possible. Nassau County has Transdev as it’s contractor and they have communicated to the Union that they want to make service cuts and furlough employees. As of now I have been able to get this delayed through communication with the Governor’s Office, Nassau County Commissioner of Labor, NYS AFL CIO, Long Island Federation of Labor and Transdev. Governor Cuomo has stated everyday in his briefings that Transit is Essential Services transporting Hospital Workers, Home Health Care Workers, grocery store clerks, pharmacists, parents getting their children’s educational supplies from their schools.
Paratransit in both counties have had changes occurring. With the ridership drastically reduced the need for all the operators have decreased. There are different plans in both counties based on the contracts between the county and the company. Suffolk Para Drivers are on a work reduction week with those drivers not reporting in to work at 90% work hours. Those working at 100% work hours with a weekly rotation until all operations resume. Nassau Para drivers are at 100% pay with some para drivers being sent home if not needed.
This has been ever changing, daily, hourly and even minute to minute. Just know that I am working non-stop to protect TWU Local 252 members in every way possible.
Stay Healthy and Safe