Some spat-upon bus drivers take time off

May 25, 2010 10:44:24 AM PDT
New York City bus drivers took an average of two paid months off last year after being spat upon by upset riders. The indignity is considered an assault under the drivers' union contract. That entitles them to take a paid break.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday that 83 drivers were spat on last year. Of those, 51 took an average of 64 paid days off. One driver took 191 days of paid leave.

The drivers made up one-third of the number of transit workers who took time off due to assaults.

The drivers' union says the encounters cause psychological trauma, because workers fear they may contract a disease or be assaulted again. They say all cases are cleared by a transit agency doctor.