This week the MTA decided to label the majority of our positions as “emergency responders.” No, not for the purposes of giving us hazard pay, unlimited sick leave, a 22 and out pension, or even the right to skip the line at grocery stores. No, they did it out of pure selfishness for the sole purpose of denying workers job-protected leave to care for their children during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) was recently passed as a measure to help families whose children needed to be cared for during the coronavirus crisis, due to their schools being closed.
This law allows for 12 weeks of partially paid leave and you cannot be terminated for using such leave. However, there is an exception made to exclude emergency responders.
Different from “first responders,” who must be qualified for CPR, trauma care, and emergency childbirth, the US Department of Labor broadly defined the term “emergency responder” to include “anyone necessary for the provision of transport, care, healthcare, comfort and nutrition of patients, or others needed for the response to COVID-19.”
Rather than taking care of their heroes when we need it the most, the MTA jumped at the chance to use a technicality to take a much needed benefit away from us.
I personally don’t have any children, but how are people supposed to go to work without having childcare when schools are closed? This is dirty, dirty stuff and goes right to the heart of how the MTA views and treats us, even in “normal” times.
At a time when they should be trying to ease tensions with the workforce after first denying workers the right to wear their own masks, then allowing it but only if you can find your own masks during a pandemic, to only distributing the masks after dozens of employee deaths, they have decided to go the other way and ATTACK us instead.
A powerful union leadership would fight back with heavy-duty force over this utter lack of respect for the workforce. Let’s wait and see what this administration does.