The MTA denied Muslim bus drivers a day off for Eid. They might walk off the job.

A transit union officer said he’s encouraging a group of eight Muslim bus drivers in Brooklyn to walk off the job on Wednesday after the MTA denied their last-minute request to take the day off to observe Eid al-Fitr.

On Friday, the eight drivers — who all work at the MTA’s Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in Sunset Park — requested time off for the holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, said J.P. Patafio, head of buses at Transport Workers Union Local 100. After the drivers’ requests were denied, Patafio said he advised them to take an “unauthorized absence” on Wednesday, which MTA spokesperson Tim Minton said would constitute a violation of the state’s Taylor Law that prohibits public employees from going on strike.

Minton also said the absences could also cause reductions in bus service in parts of Brooklyn.

“Historically, bus operators have honored the provisions of their contract which ensure that riders are not left in the lurch, no matter what the holiday,” Minton said in a statement. “A union leader threatening to go rogue is not serving their members well.”

MTA officials said they need enough bus drivers to run full service out of the depot, which is the center of 13 routes in Brooklyn that collectively serve more than 70,000 weekday riders. Patafio said there are more than 750 other drivers employed at the depot, and said the union has a religious observance clause written into its contract with the MTA that allows any employee of any religious belief to take time off from work to celebrate.

New York City’s public schools are closed on Wednesday in observance of Eid al-Fitr. But the MTA is a state agency and its employees are required to put in a request to take the day off. Officials said the requests are granted based on seniority and worker availability.

Patafio said the MTA is “going to have a fight on their hands” if it tries to discipline the drivers.

He noted the facility employs more Muslim bus drivers than any other depot in Brooklyn and argued that “there’s never enough availability for bus operators” in the first place.

“Management needs to reverse itself quickly because this is New York City, and like every other holiday and every other high religious event, we got to make accommodations,” Patafio said. He argued the denial was “a little tone dead” amid rising incidents of Islamophobia across the United States since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war last October.

Source link


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *