Deke's Note: Apologies to Henry Beasley and thousands of you across the globe for this late notice, but it's time once again to #BANDTOGETHER. For the third year now, we will join brothers and sisters of transit across the globe to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price for their service in transit.
Imagine, hard as it is, that you're driving your bus and a man steps up past the Yellow Line. He then says "God Bless you" twice, then slices your throat with a knife. No warning or threats uttered, just instant violence. Your carotid artery pumping your life's blood onto the floor, you manage to steer your bus to the curb, then secure it, thus ensuring the safety of your passengers. Then, you die.
Horrible, eh? None of us could ever fathom such an end, but it's possible. It happened to Mr. Thomas Dunn of Tampa, Florida, just over a year ago.
Horrifying to contemplate, let alone undertake. And Brother Dunn did our timeless code of Safety First its ultimate justice. His brave sacrifice demands equal honor from not only those of us who share his occupation, but also from those who use the invaluable service of public transit.
Let us dedicate our Third Annual #BANDTOGETHER event to the bravery of Brother Thomas Dunn, and others who have been murdered doing this increasingly-difficult and dangerous job of ferrying our fellow citizens safely to their destinations.
No matter the dangers we face:
- When we press charges on our assailants, our transit management does not support us going to court appearances, often disciplining us on time loss resulting from countless defense stalling tactics. Each agency should have a special legal division dedicated to ensuring anyone who attacks US be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, while vigorously lobbying state legislatures to make ANY attack on a transit worker a FELONY not prone to plea bargaining. Additionally, anyone who attacks us should be PERMANENTLY EXCLUDED from riding a transit vehicle.
- Unflinching in our dedication to driving safely, facing many dangers the public never sees.
- Constantly harassed, threatened, or attacked while simply adhering to transit code. These "barriers" management is so proud of do little to prevent a full-frontal attack.
- Faced with numerous "takeaways" in contract talks with a management which says "heroes" from one side of its collective mouths while uttering "greedy and unnecessarily needy" from the other.
- Showing up for work every day to serve our passengers, especially throughout this COVID-19 nightmare endured across the globe. Without "hazard pay" or the ability to refuse service to "maskholes" who refuse to safeguard their fellow citizens.
- Safely operate through any type of weather Mother Nature throws our way, even as our own families face peril during our absence.
Please join us this week, September 13-19 as we honor Mr. Dunn's ultimate sacrifice and demand our collective transit agencies pull their heads out of their collective corporate asses and work diligently toward protecting their frontline employees. We deserve to be FIRST in their priority lists, not relegated to the dung heaps of "liability".
When anyone asks you about your BandAid, please describe Mr. Dunn's murder, and that transit workers worldwide are honoring his ultimate sacrifice this week. It will also give you the opportunity to discuss your area's number of attacks on YOUR local transit workers.
Be frank, but remember the public has little idea of our plight. They think driving a vehicle is "easy" and that we are "overpaid" government flunkies not worthy of their respect. Take the time to patiently explain our jobs encompass more than just operating a bus or light rail vehicle. YOU know the dangers we face, so take the time to patiently explain our plight. The public deserves to know what you go through each day. Your fears and concerns deserve recognition, as well as your service to your community.
Supervisors, please join us as well as Station Agents, Trainers, Dispatchers and Maintenance Workers. You ALL know what it's like to do this job. Your solidarity shows respect to those who have paid the ultimate price. WE are brothers and sisters; THEY are intent on taking away from US to the point where we're no longer a force for change.
Please join us. Bless you and yours, be safe and well. That is my constant and lasting prayer.
With love and respect,
Deke N. Blue