The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today unanimously ratified the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Family Benefits Agreement. The MTA has reached 41 agreements with 26 different unions to honor their heroic service and sacrifice following initial agreements with Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU), the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers (SMART), International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 808 (IBT). The agreement will also be extended to non-represented employees.
The benefits include a payment of $500,000 from the MTA to the spouse, beneficiary or estate of any worker who died as a result of COVID-19, in addition to providing health insurance for three years to the spouse and dependent children for three years up to the age of 26. Additionally, the MTA supports calls for the federal government to provide hazard pay for front-line MTA employees who continue to show up for work during the pandemic.
“Our own heroic workers have sacrificed an immense amount to ensure that other heroes can do their jobs during this unprecedented crisis,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said. “We will never be able to fully honor their sacrifice, but today marks an important step in recognizing all that they have given to the region in one of its most challenging moments. We remain forever indebted for their service and our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those who have tragically passed as a result of the virus.”
Since the first positive case of COVID-19 was reported in New York on March 01, 2020, the MTA has taken aggressive action to battle the COVID-19 pandemic since the early days of its arrival in New York. Since March 01, 2020, the organization has distributed millions of pieces of personal protective equipment, including 3 million pairs of gloves and more than 1 million masks. In order to protect employees, the MTA also disregarded federal guidance and began handing out masks to all employees before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later issued new guidance recommending all Americans wear masks. The MTA continues its comprehensive disinfecting efforts with stations and high-touch areas disinfected twice a day and rollingstock disinfected nightly, with the operating fleets for all agencies completed every 72 hours or less.
The MTA has also implemented rear-door boarding and eliminated cash transactions to prevent person-to-person contact to ensure the safety of operating employees. The MTA launched the nation-leading “Temperature Brigade” on March 24 and later expanded the force to more than 55 locations testing tens of thousands of employees across New York City Transit, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road. The MTA has also installed 123 plexiglass barriers across 54 subway work locations to promote safe work environments, and additional installations continue. We have also installed 93 plexiglass barriers at work locations at all 28 bus depots and three central maintenance facilities. A pilot program is underway to install vinyl shields on buses to further separate operators and customers.