Funeral for DART Driver as Others Demand COVID-19 Hazard Pay

Transit Workers Union seeks better pay and protection

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A DART bus operator was laid to rest Friday at DFW National Cemetery after contracting COVID-19.

Army Veteran Clarence Berger, 77, was a DART employee for eight years.

“Everyone says wonderful things about working with him,” said DART Spokesman Gordon Shattles. “He was valued, he was loved and he was part of our family.”

DART police officers formed an honor guard at the cemetery. A small DART bus like the size Berger drove was part of the procession.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338 President Kenneth Day said Berger’s death demonstrates the danger transit workers face as front line public servants.

“A good employee, quiet guy, enjoyed his job. I know he’s going to be missed,” Day said.

His death comes as transit workers rally for hazard pay.

Dozens of letters from workers requesting the increase were entered into the record at Tuesday’s DART Board meeting.

“There's no amount of money that's going to suffice for the health, the life, the risk that these employees are taking,” Day said. “The employees are out there going to work every day. And most of them are not complaining about it. They want to be protected. They want to make sure they have the necessary gear and protection but they’re going to work.”

Day said DART has made efforts to protect workers but personal protective gear is sometimes unavailable.

Spokesman Shattles said that was a problem early in the pandemic but supplies are better now.  He said the question of hazard pay is still pending.

“Actually on the 26th of May we'll have our next meeting and that will be one of the large parts of our discussion, as well as financially moving forward,” Shattles said.

The possibility of up to 300 DART employee lay-offs has been suggested as the agency confronts a staggering drop in sales tax revenue and fares.

"I guess you could refer to that as the worst case scenario, a very conservative approach," Shattles said.

The Union leader said $229 million in federal CARES corona virus relief money DART has received should help protect jobs and allow hazard pay.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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