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MTA Worker Says He's Facing 30-Day Suspension For Exposing Safety Issues On Trains

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority always advises "If you see something, say something." One of its workers did just that, exposing safety issues on the trains, and now he says the agency is trying to suspend him for it.

Video taken in April is one of several that train operator Yann Hicks has been tweeting, tagging managers and politicians, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I realized that we were in a lot of trouble," Hicks told CBS2's Lisa Rozner on Tuesday.

Dozens of his fellow employees died from COVID-19 and it's visuals like the ones he's putting out there on the internet that helped pressure the state and city to require masks and institute overnight subway closures for cleaning.

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But the shop steward was notified by the MTA last month he's facing a 30-day suspension in connection to a tweet last month and a video that he says he took after cops allegedly ignored his request to stop a woman with a shopping cart, which is against transit rules.

The same day the MTA blocked his Twitter account, the agency notified him he violated a rule of "posting adverse criticism of the NYPD and NYCT ... while not on an authorized break or in a crew room."

"I was on an authorized break," Hicks said. "If we called in everything we see, we'd be on the radio all day."


Rozner asked the MTA if anyone would speak with her on camera about this. Instead, a spokesperson emailed her a statement that Hicks was using his phone on duty, which is against company rules.

The union is backing up Hicks and is calling on the MTA to drop the suspension.

"The bigger issue is the one Hicks is trying to expose. There is still a homeless population that is not being properly taken care of and we're seeing more and more," Transport Workers Union Vice President Eric Loegel said.


Attorney Jason Clarke believes if Hicks proves he tried going through proper channels his efforts to advocate for the public should protect him.

"There is certainly a First Amendment right and as a public employee you don't exactly give up that right," Clarke said.

"I'm not causing a ruckus. I'm trying to show the ruckus," Hicks said. "I'm a passenger. I'm an employee. I'm a citizen. All I want is an orderly subway."

He said with a second wave coming he hopes others aren't afraid to say something if they see something, because he certainly won't stop.

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