Tomorrow, the city of New Orleans's transit workers will take to the streets in a protest for fairer conditions to combat the global health crisis and the far-reaching effects of the novel coronavirus.
This demonstration is being led by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1560 this Friday, July 24, at 1:30 p.m. and is the organization's first Black Lives Matter rally. Those hoping to join the transit operators in their fight for improved health and safety measures can meet at 2725 Canal St.—directly across from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) office.
"We continue to suffer in fear and anxiety as COVID-19 cases once again continue to spike across the city and the state. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority refuses to acknowledge our complaint," said the President of ATU Local 1560, Valerie Jefferson.
Many of the demands for the RTA and other private contractors are improved safety measures for both workers and passengers, including proper personal protective equipment (PPE), rear-door entry, fare elimination to support social distancing, as well as a call to strategize against overcrowding. Additionally, ATU Local 1560 is asking for pandemic leave for those workers who are showing symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID-19, those who are caring for family members who have tested positive, and those who have childcare obligations as a result of the shutdown.
These frontline workers need the support of the New Orleans community as they take action against unfair conditions and improper employer practices. Three RTA operators have lost their lives to COVID-19 and over 50 employees have tested positive. These workers deserve justice.
"We deserve hazard pay. We are putting our lives on the line every day in order for the city to continue to provide transit for residents," said Jefferson.