COVID-19 and Rochester Labor
ATU Local 282
Interview with Jacques Chapman (President, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 282), 19 February 2021
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 282 represents the more than six hundred workers who are responsible for making the Regional Transit Service run, providing essential bus service to fifty-five thousand Rochester area riders daily: bus drivers, mechanics, cleaners, dispatchers and clerical staff.
ATU 282 is a majority minority (Black and Hispanic) union, with a historically predominantly male membership (though this is changing).
Alerted early to the dangers posed by COVID-19, the local appealed to its international union for assistance, receiving not only PPE (masks) but support for policies related to testing, contact tracing, COVID-related time off without penalty, arranging for the enforcement of a mask policy (no mask, no ride; passenger masks provided by Monroe County), and for instituting a three-month no fare, rear door entry policy. The local Regional Transit Authority was exceedingly cooperative with the union's efforts to protect the workforce from infection.
As a result of these measures and despite a general ridership decline (initially fifty percent) and, additionally, the loss of thousands of city school district student riders, most ATU 282 members were able to continue working through the pandemic. However, quite a few members were either infected or quarantined after exposure and one retiree died of COVID. By mid-February 2021 an estimated quarter of the members were able to receive vaccines administered through the County.