Legislation (S.9468/A.10491) Extends Criminal Charges to Individuals Who Assault Additional Transit Workers Not Protected by Current Law
Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.9468/ A.10491) to protect roughly 11,000 more transit workers against assault and harassment. The bill will expand current law that charges individuals who attack or harass transit workers with second degree assault. It will extend criminal charges to individuals who assault station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers, repairers, cleaners, and their supervisors, who are not protected by existing law. The Governor signed the bill alongside State Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblymember Vivian Cook, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, and Mark Henry, President, ATU local 1056.
"During the pandemic, our transit workers were heroes, showing up while everyone was staying home — putting not only their health and the health of their families at risk, but also risking their lives as subway crime increased," Governor Hochul said. "New York's transit workers have always been there for us and now it is our job to be there for them. No one should be subjected to physical violence or harassment in the workplace, and today we are taking an important step in protecting the men and women who keep our subways and buses running."
"Throughout the pandemic, transit workers transported our essential workers to and from work, putting their own lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk to ensure that New Yorkers were able to receive needed healthcare and other essentials such as food," said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. "We owe our transit workers a debt of gratitude and it is our duty to now ensure that they can make it through their day without having to deal with threats to their safety."
Station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers, and supervisors employed by transit agencies or authorities work with and among the public to ensure that transit is running on schedule, that terminals and stations are clean, and that passengers can obtain tickets and information. These employees are vulnerable to harassment or assault by any individual using transit or transit facilities, and this bill will toughen laws to protect additional transit employees from attacks. By charging individuals who physically injure transit workers with second-degree assault, the legislation will serve as a deterrent to those seeking to harm transit employees.
Janno Lieber, MTA Chair and CEO said, "Today's bill signing is enormously appreciated by all of us at the MTA; transit workers are heroes who deserve a safe workplace. But the work on the issue of public safety is not complete. New laws need to be enforced so our workers can run the best public transportation system in the country and move New Yorkers to where they need to go."
No one should be subjected to physical violence or harassment in the workplace, and today we are taking an important step in protecting the men and women who keep our subways and buses running.
State Senator Leroy Comrie said, "Today I celebrate alongside thousands of transit workers as Governor Hochul signs this critical legislation into law. Transit workers kept our city moving during the height of the pandemic and beyond, at great risk to themselves and their families. These heroes deserve safe workplaces and those who assault transit workers deserve to face penalties commensurate with their crimes. Recent events have made it clear how serious we have to be with regard to transit worker safety and I commend transit leadership, organized labor, and advocates who have all been key partners in making this a priority. I am grateful for their partnership and I am also grateful to my colleagues for their support, Assemblymember Cook for championing this in the Assembly, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for their leadership. We all benefit when transit employees can focus on delivering safe, reliable service."
Assemblymember Vivian E. Cook said, "Throughout the pandemic, New York's transit workers have been on the front lines, working tirelessly to keep our state running every day. That's why I was proud to push for this legislation, which will ensure the safety and security of transit workers. I commend Governor Hochul for her ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers and keep our subways safe."
ATU Local 1056 President Mark Henry said, "This legislation is needed to serve as a deterrent to those who think it's okay to attack a transit worker. This is a tool for prosecutors to use to fully prosecute those that attack transit workers. We thank the Legislature and Governor Hochul for recognizing transit workers with these protections."
Subway Surface Supervisors Association President Michael Carrube said, "We would like to thank Governor Hochul for quickly signing this important legislation. Our members and labor in general have been disadvantaged by the system for years. This legislation will help level the playing field."
SMART General Chairman Anthony Simon said, "Protecting transportation workers in our region has to be a top priority to keep our MTA essential workers safe while keeping New York moving. This bill will certainly help that cause. Thank you to Governor Hochul, Senator Comrie and Assemblymember Cook for leading the way in this effort to keep our workers safe by ensuring punishment for those who put them at risk."
DC37 Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I said, "The treatment of transit workers by the public needed to be addressed, they all deserve protection under the law. I am so happy that Governor Hochul is signing this legislation today showing her support for these heroic frontline workers. This sends a clear message to keep your hands off of transit workers while they keep New York moving. We look forward to working with the legislature to ensuring more public facing members are protected."
Transit Supervisors Organization TWU Local 106 President Philip Valenti said, "Now more than ever due to the soaring crime rates in New York State, especially the assaults on transit employees, it's great that the Governor and those in Albany have acted to do something to deter this trend from continuing."
TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said, "Transit workers come to work to do a job, not wind up in the emergency room. We deserve respect from riders and from the law. Thank you, Governor Hochul and Members of the State Legislature, for recognizing that assaults against transit workers are an ongoing problem that need to be addressed. This is a step in the right direction. Prosecutors and judges must now do their job and hold people accountable for their actions."
Edward Valente, General Chairman of Association of Commuter Rail Employees, said, "ACRE applauds Governor Hochul, Senator Comrie and Assemblywoman Cook, for creating policy to protect our members. Everyday our members are assaulted while performing their duties. This legislation sends a strong message that assaulting a Metro-North worker will not be tolerated."
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