In New York City, transit workers are an essential part of daily life, even if few commuters notice their importance. In addition to playing a key role in keeping the city running smoothly, these workers are subject to various dangers while on the job. If there are clear dangers and workers, speak up about it, it is expected that the MTA will take their concerns seriously and take steps to address them. If they do not, it is up to the union to protect its union members. Having a law firm that is well-versed in helping a labor union is foundational.
Four workers on a Brooklyn track crew say they made complaints about work conditions. After they complained, they were told to go home. They are seeking back pay, even as three of the workers' jobs are in jeopardy. One worker, a 32-year-old veteran on the job, stated that he saw a safety violation and reported it. As a result, he and his team members were penalized.
The workers demanded safety flagging, and that was the reason they were sent home. According to them, the rules mandate that they have flagging to warn them when trains are approaching, and as a method of stopping runaway cars. The MTA asserts that the site is safe, and the flagging is not needed. The workers believe they are being retaliated against, are having wages withheld and discipline is taking too long to resolve.
They say the MTA owes then $8,500 in back pay, and they could lose their jobs. There had been an issue with the union failing to provide a full defense of the workers, but later the union head changed the procedure to install flags and trip devices to protect the workers.
Complicated cases involving grievance mediation and the labor union shielding its members needs legal assistance that understands the ins and outs of labor law. These workers were stating they needed safety procedures implemented, but the MTA was refusing to do so and sanctioned the workers with the possibility that they are going to lose their jobs. A labor union that is dealing with this type of dispute must have an experienced law firm on its side. This is to protect the workers as individuals and the union overall.
Source: The New York Daily News, "Brooklyn MTA crew claims they faced retaliation for raising red flags," Dan Rivoli, March 12, 2018