After a month where public transportation and airline workers were constantly attacked at work, out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is making a plea to the American public.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to ever mistreat a transportation worker,” he said, asking for passengers “to show some appreciation and respect” when flying through the air or riding along the roads and subways.
“The flight crews and other workers you encounter, they’re doing their job. They’re following regulations and they’re there to keep you safe.”
Over the past month, transit workers from have called for Buttigieg’s help to curb the violence that they are facing as people return to subways, buses, and planes in surging numbers.
Earlier this month in New York City’s subway, for example, there were several violent incidents — including a man stabbing another on a train in Manhattan while yelling homophobic remarks, and a train conductor being slashed in the face within 24 hours of that.
A video went viral, showing an airline attendant who was physically assaulted by a passenger who refused to follow the airline’s mask mandate. That passenger has been banned from flying Southwest Airlines again, and the attendant had teeth knocked out and needed medical attention.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that they received 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers in 2021, and nearly 1,900 of them were related to the federal mask mandate.
The federal government has a mask mandate in place for planes, buses and trains that will remain until at least September, according to Buttigieg.
“Part of it has to do with the unique conditions of the physical space,” Buttigieg explained to This Week’s Martha Raddatz, “part of it has to do with the conditions of it being a workplace, and folks who really don’t have a choice about being there, the way it is in some other cases. These rules and regulations and these bodies of guidance always evolve with the science.”
“A lot of American will be traveling for the first time. That also means, for the first time in a while, maybe encountering flight crews and flight attendants and other transportation workers,” he added.
Buttigieg pleaded with Americans to “remember what they have been through, what they have been doing to keep you safe, and make sure to show some appreciation and respect to everybody from a bus driver, operator to a flight attendant to a captain.”
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg tells @MarthaRaddatz "we are coming out of one of the biggest shocks—perhaps the biggest shock that the modern American transportation system has ever seen," as travel surges this holiday weekend. https://t.co/yZytfqyjao pic.twitter.com/nZUJmLzQhs
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 30, 2021
“They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, their jobs have been in doubt. They are here for your safety, and it’s so important to show appreciation for the work that they’re doing in this very, very busy holiday weekend,” Buttigieg said.
“And of course, there’s very serious fines and enforcement around that,” he added.
Buttigieg reiterated the message during a separate appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
On whether vaccinated Americans can drop the masks on airplanes, Sec. Pete Buttigieg tells @MarthaRaddatz: "Some of the differences have to do with the physical space, some of them have to do with it being a workplace." https://t.co/WYsXhlVuR9 pic.twitter.com/vu5v4Ypt3l
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 30, 2021
Transportation @SecretaryPete on planes mask mandates: "The bottom line is we have a set of rules in place to keep people safe, and I really hope that travelers will respect flight attendants, bus operators, workers." https://t.co/d1qmoHh8qF pic.twitter.com/NYjfJJmjqt
— The Hill (@thehill) May 30, 2021