City transit employees say they deserve the same preferential treatment as cops and doctors when it comes to shopping — including being allowed to skip lines and avoid product limits, given their “front-line” work.
“As far as first-responders go, we’re taking them to work — and we’re not being afforded any form of courtesy or respect,” subway operator Adam Black, 47, told The Post on Sunday.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100, of which Black is a member, said it has had 42 workers die from COVID-19, or more than the number of city cops, firefighters and EMTs — combined.
“We are getting the essential workers to their jobs. Dozens of transit workers have died,” said union President Tony Utano. “[Transit workers] absolutely should be recognized for all that they are doing and have sacrificed.”
Black said he tried to avoid the line at the ShopRite at the Gateway Mall in East New York, Brooklyn, on Saturday, to no avail.
“I’m dying out here. … My brethren are dying. … We’re the ones taking the first responders where they gotta go,” Black told security guards at the grocery store’s entrance, according to video he posted to Facebook.
One of the guards responded to the train operator, who lives in Canarsie, Brooklyn, that while he recognizes Black is an “essential” worker, the privilege is only for “first responders.”
MTA bus driver Letty Daniels, 33, told The Post that she tried to get ahead of the line at a Food Bazaar in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last week because she just wanted to buy a roll of paper towels, and at first was rebuffed.
“I said, ‘How did the cashiers get to work today? I’m sure they took mass transit,” she recalled.
Daniels of Brooklyn said a worker eventually let her in without waiting.
A store manager told The Post on Sunday, “Personally, speaking for myself, we try as much as possible” to help out transit workers by letting them bypass the lines.
Daniels said an employee at BJ’s Wholesale on the border of Queens also relented for her a few days later, even though it was technically against policy.
“The guy said they’re not supposed to, but he would let me in this one time,” Daniels said.
Still, she said that when she tried to buy an extra container of disinfectant wipes — one for her and one for work — she was denied. First-responders are not restricted by the one-per-customer rule, she said.
“We’re not saying we’re first-responders per se, but we are front-line workers. We’re on the front lines. The doctors can’t get to where they’re going, the nurses can’t get to where they’re going” without mass transit,” Daniels said.
“We’re basically risking our lives, and we’re not even getting the respect that’s due.”
City bus driver Jonathan Baldwin, 38 of Far Rockaway, Queens, said he has been canvassing individual stores to see what their policies are, in an effort to help colleagues figure out where they can go for better treatment.
He said he asked a manager at one Costco in Brooklyn if the store would consider allowing transit workers in during special times reserved for seniors. The manager said no, Baldwin recalled.
“Everybody says, ‘We appreciate you because we use you. But unfortunately, we can’t give you that courtesy,’ ” he said.
The MTA said it fully supports the push by the transit workers.
“New York City Transit’s work force are truly heroes of this crisis,” agency spokesman Shams Tarek said in a statement. “The MTA supports any effort to provide them with a priority access to benefits being afforded our region’s heroes.”
ShopRite, BJs and Costco did not immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment.
Additional reporting by David Meyer