New York City transit union wins line-of-duty death benefits for workers killed by COVID-19

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Transport Workers Union members who die of COVID-19 while working for New York City’s  Metropolitan Transportation Authority will get a $500,000 death benefit, the union and the MTA announced Tuesday. Surviving spouses and children under 26 years old will also get three years of health coverage.

The COVID-19 death toll among New York City transit workers keeps rising. Last week it was 41. Now it’s at least 59. The workers’ survivors and the union had pushed for the deaths to be recognized as having happened on the job, rather than from natural causes, which triggers the higher benefit.

The MTA was holding out for the federal government to pay the line-of-duty death benefits, but the union was not interested in waiting. Workers are already angry they weren’t given masks and other protective equipment earlier in the outbreak—some were even reprimanded for wearing their own masks.

“New York wouldn’t have a fighting chance against this virus if transit workers weren’t getting the blue collar heroes of this pandemic—nurses, paramedics, food service workers—to the front lines of the battle  all across the metropolitan region,” TWU president John Samuelsen said in a statement. “This COVID-19 death benefit is a recognition of the incredible contributions and sacrifices our workforce has made.”

Bus drivers in some parts of the city who are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union haven’t yet won this benefit, though they’re working on it.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on April 14, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.