New York transit workers' union urges improved safety

The transit workers' union representing conductors and other Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers is urging increased protections for staff after a conductor was stabbed unexpectedly while on a subway platform in the Bronx. The New York City transit worker declined attention when contacted by local media, saying that he just wanted to rest and recover. The man was released from the hospital on Apr. 22 after receiving treatment for his injuries.

The man had been sitting on a bench while on duty at the 149th Street and Grand Concourse subway station when a young man in the station launched an unprovoked argument with him. The man then pulled out a switchblade, stabbing the subway conductor. Others on the platform said they were shocked by the violence, noting that these types of incidents were uncommon yet frightening. The worker had five years of experience on the job, and fellow employees said that they were struck by how calmly he handled the situation despite his serious injuries. The conductor was stabbed four times by the man, who was arrested and taken for a psychiatric evaluation.

On Apr. 12, an unknown man threw urine at two female MTA workers in the same area, and attacks in general have risen by 10% since 2017. Union officials cited the stabbing and the harassment incidents as indicative of a dangerous environment for transit workers, warning that there could be a fatality if more action is not taken to provide protection. They said that people take out their frustrations with systematic transit problems on workers who have little to no control over the serious issues at the MTA.

Labor unions have an important history and present in defending workers' rights on the job against unfair pay, discrimination and harassment. When workers come together, union representation counsel may help protect their collective rights.

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