Transit Ambassadors complain about working conditions

Some of the MBTA’s Transit Ambassadors, the people in the red shirts who assist passengers at train stations, are not that thrilled with their working conditions and rumbling about forming a union. 

The roughly 200 ambassadors work for a third-party company called MyDatt Services of Nashville, which serves as a hiring agency for the T, which trains the workers.  

Several of the ambassadors, who asked not to be identified, tentatively stepped forward after the MBTA’s board of directors raised concerns last month about a new $102 million contract on which MyDatt was the lone bidder.

The ambassadors complained about their working conditions – being on their feet all day, dealing with a ridership that sometimes can be threatening, and getting paid $19 to $20 an hour with limited benefits.

“We need more. We put ourselves out there on a daily basis,” said one of the ambassadors. 

“We’re on our feet all day long,” said another ambassador, who added that he is allowed to take two 15-minute breaks and 30 minutes for lunch.

Safety appears to be a major concern. One of the ambassadors said he regularly deals with drunks and homeless people who sometimes can be aggressive. Another said he has talked 10 people out of committing suicide.

The ambassadors said one of their colleagues was stabbed in November 2020 by a transit rider at Copley Station in the Back Bay. They said the worker was let go after the incident for straying from his post.

The workers said they have been talking among themselves about forming a union, but the idea appears to be in its infancy.

The Transit Ambassador program was launched in 2017 and the initial contract with MyDatt Services is set to expire at the end of this month. T officials said they notified more than 200 vendors that the agency was looking to sign a new five-year contract and expand to 30 more locations. Only two companies showed any interest, and MyDatt was the only company to submit a bid. 

Members of the MBTA board at their meeting last month raised concerns about the size of the contract and the lack of interest from bidders. They asked for more information on worker benefits.

Steven Poftak, the general manager of the T, said he did not want the agency to be saddled with hiring the ambassadors, rather than contracting for their services, at a time when its human resources staff is struggling to hire workers in key operational and safety positions. 

“The notion of internally standing up another function would be very difficult for the T to do at the current time and would be dilutive of those efforts,” he said.




Kickbacks or proper compensation? The state’s three major private utilities are facing pushback on Beacon Hill and out on the campaign trail to their bid to claim 2.75 percent of the value of the latest multi-billion-dollar offshore wind procurements as compensation for carrying the contracts on their books.

– Attorney General Maura Healey, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, is calling the payments “kickbacks.” Meanwhile, the Senate version of climate change legislation would pare back the compensation level to 1.25 percent. The utilities insist the payments are needed to offset the costs and risks involved for their companies.

– Getting the actual dollar value of the utility shares is not easy. The number is not in filings at the Department of Public Utilities and Eversource, the lead utility, declined to provide the information. On previous similar contracts, CommonWealth estimated the utility payments added up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Read more.

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The New Bedford Light profiles a 74-year-old grandmother living in her car because soaring rents on the South Coast drove her out of her apartment. 

A lawsuit continues to delay implementation of the state’s “right to repair” law. (Eagle-Tribune)

Bruce Cassidy is fired as the coach of the Boston Bruins. (Associated Press)


Several South Coast school districts are increasing police presence after the Uvalde, Texas, shooting. (Standard-Times)


Falmouth hires a demolition firm to tear down two wind turbines that were the focus of complaints from neighbors. The Select Board voted to shut them down in 2017 and now asll trace of them is about to be removed. (Cape Cod Times)


A bus carrying jurors to the scene of a fatal collision in 2018 is itself involved in a crash, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial in the motor vehicle homicide case against Joseph Thompson, the former director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. (Berkshire Eagle)

The founders and chaplain of the New Spirit religious camp in Springfield are banned from working with children after an investigation by the Roman Catholic diocese found they committed “boundary violations” with teens. (MassLive)


The Washington Post’s top editor tries to defuse a Twitter feud between the newspaper’s reporters after one reporter is reportedly suspended for retweeting a sexist tweet. (The Daily Beast/CNN)

A new documentary narrated by Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch tells the story of seven military generals from Quincy. (Patriot Ledger)


Sarah Etelman, vice chair of the South Hadley selectboard who worked for several area nonprofits, dies of cancer. (MassLive)