Transportation Labor Urges Action to Curb Violence Against Workers and Passengers; Air and Ground ‘Rage’ Assailed

Story Filed: Monday, February 12, 2001 5:09 PM EST

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- With incidences of “rage” in our air and transit transportation network on the rise, transportation union leaders today pledged to push Congress and the President to stiffen federal measures so that violent acts against workers and passengers are treated as federal crimes.

“Curbing violence against transportation workers and passengers is a critically important public and transportation safety objective,” declared Sonny Hall, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“There is nothing more chilling than to hear stories of verbal abuse, physical assault and even rape and shooting rampages in our passenger transportation system. Obviously more must be done to protect passengers and workers.”

At its winter meeting in Los Angeles, TTD’s 32-member Executive Committee unanimously called for aggressive measures to stem the tide of violent acts that are seriously calling into the question whether federal authorities and Congress are doing enough to protect the safety of passengers and the traveling public.

Actions supported by transportation unions leaders include:

·        implementing stiffer penalties against individuals who assault airline crews;

·        deputizing local law enforcement authorities to detain unruly airline passengers, as called for in last year’s comprehensive aviation funding and safety legislation; and

·        changing the law so that violent acts in transit operations are federal crimes as well.


“Just one act of violence is one too many,” the Executive Committee said. A “zero tolerance” policy against such violence will go a long way to “protect the safety of all those who utilize and work in our passenger transportation system.”

“Maybe our policy leaders will respond more aggressively,” Hall added, “when they read press accounts of acts as extreme as the recent occurrences involving an intruder who forced his way into the cockpit during flight and a bus driver being dragged and beaten for simply requesting the required fare from passengers.”

Last year transportation labor endorsed a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to make criminal acts against bus and rail operators, toll booth collectors and ferry operators or their property federal crimes. TTD will work with a bipartisan Congress to enact new measures and to improve the federal government’s enforcement of existing laws.