Facing Violence on the Job

Image source: DF4D-0070 via Wikimedia Commons

At AC Transit in the San Francisco Bay area, workers contribute to a workplace newsletter. Here are some of their recent writings written after a bus driver was assaulted on the job.

On Deaf Ears

By now, all of us have probably seen the video of the driver who was assaulted with a hammer and had a gun pointed in his face. As terrifying as the situation was, sadly it wasn’t a surprise. The driver had made it known to management multiple times that there was this potentially threatening person along his route. He even requested to change routes. What did management do? Absolutely nothing. Why should it have gotten to the place where he had his life threatened?

Psychiatric Ward on Wheels

We see it every day out on the streets. There are many people out in society that have serious mental illnesses that often wind up on our buses, sometimes creating scary situations. The recent assault with a hammer is just one reminder that any of us can potentially get caught in harm’s way. It is estimated that one out of five American adults suffer from mental health issues. Of those people, more than half never receive any support. Low income people in particular rarely get the support that they need.

Why couldn’t we live in a society that sees mental healthcare as simply “healthcare”, without any stigma? Why couldn’t we live in a society where all healthcare is a basic human right for all of us? Until then, we are all suffering and all in harm’s way.

The Hazards of the Job

Most jobs have their own hazards that come along with the territory. Working for AC is no different, but there seem to be many, many more than one would think. From the incidents that happen with passengers, the accidents with cars running into buses, the trees that jump out of nowhere, to even the travel from a relief point back to the yard. We probably all know at least one person who has been affected, if not many. These are real hazards, where people get hurt, possibly traumatized, and make it difficult to want to keep coming back to work.

All of this is not a secret, so what has been done? Covid shields only got installed when we shut down the front of the bus. New driver barriers only got ordered and installed when enough of us have been hurt. Safer relief points were created after enough of us complained. If we don’t do the work of getting things changed, they don’t seem to change…