Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Workers at a Manhattan bus depot found themselves in a bureaucratic battle when they lowered their flag to honor the firefighter who died in a Bronx home explosion — and were told by superiors to raise it back up or they could get suspended.
Tim Reilly, a facilities maintenance employee at Kingsbridge Bus Depot, said he lowered the depot’s flag to half-staffon Tuesday after Mayor de Blasio ordered all flags to be lowered in memory of FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy.
Depot management told Reilly to raise the flag on Tuesday night, but he and other workers refused.
“When I came in this morning, I was told by my superiors to go upstairs and raise that flag,” he said Wednesday. “I refused. We all refused. We were told if we didn’t put it back up at half staff, we are going to be taken out of service, which means we were going to be taken off the clock.”
Thomas Lenane, a rep for Transport Workers Union Local 100, said he was told by MTA officials Wednesday morning that, “the mayor does not give direction to the MTA and that they did not get direction to do it.”
“We said that we’re not going to do it,” Lenane told The Post. “We’re not going to dishonor a fallen firefighter and his family.”
At least seven other depots lowered their flags in solidarity with the Kingsbridge depot, he added.
On Wednesday afternoon, the MTA blamed the situation on a miscommunication and said all flags will be lowered.
“There was a miscommunication at the bus depot,” an MTA spokesperson said. “All flags have been ordered lowered at all MTA facilities to honor Battalion Chief Michael Fahy.”
Lenane insisted there was no miscommunication, saying he was informed by a top MTA official that the other bus depots that lowered their flags would have to raise them as well.
“This incident was the result of the disrespectful decisions of brainless bureaucrats at NYC Transit, but when workers stand shoulder to shoulder we win,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said.