NPR’s Scott Simon speaks to John Courtney, president of a transit employees’ union in California, in regards to the court docket resolution hanging down the federal masks mandate on public transportation.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
We noticed movies of individuals cheering after being advised they might take off their masks on public transit. This was simply after a federal choose in Florida struck down a masks mandate on public transportation, a choice that may now be appealed by the Biden administration. The Amalgamated Transit Union has known as for calm amidst what they known as uncertainty and confusion of the scenario. John Courtney is the president of ATU Native 265, which represents bus drivers within the Bay Space of California.
Thanks a lot for being with us, Mr. Courtney.
JOHN COURTNEY: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: What was your response if you heard the ruling?
COURTNEY: A little bit of reduction within the very starting – after which, , I understood that there can be issues as, , it pertained to implementing a coverage. And, , to be sincere, we have been coping with so many alternative adjustments in masks mandates, insurance policies, even with the vaccinations. It is just like the – , it is an ever-changing playbook. And this was simply one other instance. A few of the implementation of the coverage for our bus drivers can change into contentious with sure passengers. And I felt relieved that an issue may need been going away.
SIMON: Inform us a bit bit about that over the previous couple of years ‘trigger plenty of your union members have been form of put within the place of being the brand new marshal on the town – proper? – who needed to inform individuals, you bought to put on a masks.
COURTNEY: Yeah. And from the very starting, it was the unions, the bus driver unions, who I symbolize. We have been those who have been very outspoken about placing private protecting gear into the buses, together with hand sanitizers and masks. And we discovered that there was an uptick in assaults on our bus drivers. It simply created plenty of conditions that put our operators in jeopardy.
SIMON: Yeah. So you’re feeling a way of reduction proper now. What if it comes again?
COURTNEY: Yeah. I imply, if it comes again, we’ll welcome it, and we’ll cope with it. I imply, I believe it’s what it’s, proper? You come by means of the door and not using a masks, there is no questions requested, nothing, ? However when the entrance of the bus has no masks, no experience, it is fairly clear. However now that that signal’s gone, the masks mandate is lifted, that has all been alleviated. However now a few of our operators are frightened about their well being, their private well being, as a result of they consider within the masks.
SIMON: Nicely, inform us about that as a result of, after all, bus drivers cannot select who they affiliate with. It is anyone who comes by means of that door.
COURTNEY: That is precisely proper. And, , so we have now to guard ourselves. And what occurs at work – somebody breathes on you – you are taking that residence to your loved ones. You are serious about that. So it is a powerful scenario proper now for individuals who are on the market on the entrance traces. Nonetheless, that hasn’t gone away. And a few of our operators and front-line employees are going to proceed to put on the masks.
SIMON: Yeah. Mr. Courtney, what’s it been prefer to be a public transit driver these previous couple of years? We hear the job has modified. It is change into even more durable than common.
COURTNEY: It actually has. I have been – that is my twenty eighth 12 months in transportation. I spent plenty of years in upkeep. However once I got here to San Jose, I grew to become a bus driver. And I completely adore it. It is a tremendous job. And in plenty of methods, we’re in a scenario now the place we have been devalued – bus drivers, specifically, front-line employees in our trade. It has been – we have been disrespected. However, , by and enormous, we’re chugging alongside, shifting individuals.
The largest problem throughout the pandemic is the thought that you could be be bringing one thing residence to your loved ones that you just caught or obtained on the job. You are taking all of your garments off earlier than you enter your own home after a day’s work. It is bathe exterior. It doesn’t matter what you probably did, you continue to have it at the back of your thoughts, may which were the way in which that my grandfather died from COVID?
SIMON: John Courtney is president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Native 265 within the Bay Space. Thanks a lot for being with us, sir.
COURTNEY: Thanks, Scott.
(SOUNDBITE OF GIRL IN RED SONG, “MIDNIGHT LOVE”)
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