SEPTA workers demand safety changes amid COVID-19 pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A union representing SEPTA employees is calling for changes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video released by Transport Workers Union Local 234, leader Willie Brown is demanding change for members.

"As of Thursday, the 23rd, if SEPTA does not meet our demands we will take a job action," he said.

A union spokesperson stressed this is not a threat to strike, but rather workers feel the transit agency is not being transparent about COVID-19 safety measures.

SEPTA has already put partitions between bus drivers and ordered riders to enter through the back door. Plus, they are asking riders to follow state guidelines to wear masks, however, they can't enforce that. Officials say they have already provided masks and gloves.

Bus operator Kim Baker said she has been pulled off her route to help with sanitizing the buses at the end of the route.

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SEPTA workers demand further protection, threaten strike

"I don't think that the spray alone is enough to clean buses," she said.

But SEPTA officials say buses and trains are sanitized twice a route and at the end of the day.

Three union members have died and 96 have tested positive for the virus.

The union wants employees tested prior to their shift, workers with underlying health conditions to quarantine and the agency to follow state guidelines.

SEPTA released a statement on Tuesday saying in part, "SEPTA's top priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees. During this unprecedented crisis, we have worked closely with our workforce and union leaders to enhance protections and provide the safest possible environment for essential travel. These are challenging issues, and we are committed to continuing a dialogue with TWU Local 234 and all other unions representing SEPTA employees. With the progress we've made together to date, we would expect SEPTA employees will continue to deliver service that is connecting residents to essential jobs, hospitals, grocery stores and other life-sustaining services."


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