Last week, State Rep. Joe McGonagle testified before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of his bill H.1669, An Act relative to the offense of assault and battery upon a transit worker. This is the second session in which he has filed the bill, and he is confident his colleagues in the Legislature recognize the nature of the problem and will work towards justice.
The bill specifies the legal punishment for someone who assaults a transit worker while the transit worker is performing his or her duties. It specifies time in a house of corrections for 90 days to two and a half years or a fine of $500 to $5,000. It also includes the act of flinging bodily or unspecified fluid at a transit worker as assault.
“When the Carmen’s Union [Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589] came to me a few years ago, I had no idea the extent of this issue,” said McGonagle. “Seeing the statistics and hearing the horrific stories of these workers is truly upsetting and bewildering. Everybody deserves to feel safe at work and not feel threatened just for doing their job. While I’m frustrated this kind of activity exists, I’m grateful for the brave men and women who have stood up to advocate for themselves and their colleagues.”
The hearing was attended by several transit workers, both bus and rail, who had horrific experiences to share. Many have been physically assaulted as well as verbally assaulted and threatened. Some spoke of their injuries and difficulties getting back to work, and one described having a gun pulled on her earlier this year. For the majority, these most recent incidents were not the first time they experienced this trauma and they know it probably isn’t the last.
“We have the ability, obligation and duty to change this. Whatever avenue helps to stop or mitigate these acts of aggression must be taken. I’m grateful to Chairmen Mike Day and Jamie Eldridge as well as the rest of the Judiciary Committee for listening to these stories and 589 vice-president Billy Beradino for spearheading this charge. I’m confident together we can find a solution.”