FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2021
Contact: Travis Reuther, firstname.lastname@example.org
TWU President John Samuelsen: Government Agencies and Transportation Companies Must Do Far More to Protect Transportation Workers from Assault
Frontline workers continue to face major increase in physical assaults in our transportation systems
On Tuesday, November 16th, Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security about the increasing risk of workplace assault that frontline transportation workers are facing across the country.
“Across airlines, transit, and railroads, frontline workers overwhelmingly believe that the number one security threat in our transport systems today is physical assault in the performance of their duties,” said President Samuelsen.
The FAA has reported more than 5,000 unruly passenger incidents this year, a 2000% increase. While these assaults have received the most media attention, assaults against transit and rail workers are also on the rise. In New York City alone, there have been early 2,000 assaults on transit workers this year. Amtrak workers have seen assaults rise by 25% over a period when ridership dropped 60%.
“We are seeing a ‘full moon atmosphere’ across all our transport systems, where angry and frustrated passengers feel entitled to assault workers just because they are the face of the companies they work for. There are many factors contributing to this atmosphere and none of them have been created by the workers who are in harm’s way,” said President Samuelsen. “Combating assaults on transport workers requires a holistic approach involving federal and local authorities, as well as transportation employers.”
One major factor has been mismanagement and extreme understaffing. Airlines collectively employ nearly 50,000 fewer workers today than before the start of the pandemic. The choice to reduce headcount has resulted in far more cancellations and delays. Similarly, transit agencies, who have conducted almost no hiring since the start of the pandemic, are now reducing service due to a self-inflicted lack of bus operators and mechanics. Passengers and riders who are stressed about their commute to work or a cancelled trip home are entering our transportation system very upset, and regularly taking out their anger on frontline workers.
The TWU represents more than 150,000 members across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities, and services sectors.