The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Transport Workers Union of America announced an agreement Tuesday establishing a COVID-19 death benefit for TWU members who died after being infected.
Under the agreement, the MTA will pay $500,000 in a lump sum to the spouse, beneficiary or estate of each deceased member in active service on or after Feb. 1, 2020, Local 100 in Brooklyn reported.
"Transportation workers are the heroes moving heroes of this public health crisis, continuing to get healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel where they need to go and saving lives,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said. “What our frontline workers have done during this pandemic is nothing short of heroic and we believe this agreement is another crucial step in recognizing their sacrifice."
The TWU agreement extends the COVID-19 death benefit to members of four TWU Locals: Local 100, Local 106, Local 2001 and Local 2055. It also provides health insurance to the spouse and dependents up to 26 years old.
"We can't bring back our heroic co-workers, but we can make sure their families are taken care of," Local 100 President Tony Utano said Tuesday. "We will continue to fight in Albany for additional benefits to help the families left behind and to further honor our lost heroes' great sacrifice to this city and state."
More than 50 MTA employees -- most of the New York City bus and subway workers -- have reportedly died from virus-related complications.
"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 International President John Samuelsen added. "This COVID-19 death benefit is a recognition of the incredible contributions and sacrifices our workforce has made."
TWU first called for the line-of-duty benefit ($500,000 instead of the $50,000 active duty benefit) on March 26 after the coronavirus killed conductor Peter Petrassi (pictured above).
Petrassi, who was the authority's first known COVID-19 casualty, was with the MTA for 20 years and last worked with the transit operations department in Long Island City.
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