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COVID-19 In This Together

In This Together: Linnae Nelson-Seys, Workforce Development

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, June 26, 2020 2:48:00 PM

Across the organization, Metro Transit employees’ work has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These "In These Together" Q&As illustrate how employees are adapting both on and off the clock. Read more interviews here

Linnae Nelson-Seys, Workforce Development Coordinator

How has the pandemic affected your day-to-day work?

I'm doing about 5% of what I was doing before the pandemic. Until further notice, bus driver hiring has been suspended. This means there's no application assistance, Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) study sessions or other resources to assist bus driver candidates through the hiring process. Instead, I'm serving as a program advocate for Building Strong Communities, an apprenticeship preparatory program designed to help prepare individuals for a long career in the construction industry, in part by supporting the construction of the Green Line Extension. It also moves non-traditional candidates and candidates with barriers into the ten construction labor trades. The unions have been very responsive to welcoming new and diverse individuals into their ranks.  

I'm so grateful to have a job. Each week that goes by and I am still at Metro Transit, I feel blessed. With the loss of many of my functions, I'm glad there was another program I could dig into and that I could serve in a new capacity. I also really enjoy the women I'm working with. They are intent on changing the economic trajectory of their lives and being trailblazers. Many of the trade unions they are joining have fewer than 25 women in their several thousand member ranks. 

What’s it feel like working amid a pandemic?

Recently, the pandemic has really taken a backseat to the civil turmoil in the community. It’s hard to simultaneously be fearful about catching or spreading COVID-19 while being present and involved in this moment of major reckoning. I'm trying to give both these transformative, once-in-a-lifetime occurrences the proper level of respect and care. I had a professor in grad school who said, “We [humans] are a crisis driven-species” and boy, was she right.

How has your life changed outside of work?

One of the biggest personal losses has been the joy of riding the bus with my 2.5 year old son, who is crazy about the drivers and the buses. He's developed personal relationships with many of my driver comrades and they like to see and talk to him; it makes him feel grown up. (His favorite drivers are Fatima Barboza, Hakeem Sylla, Marina Voss, Machelle (Mickey) Albert, and Wondi Dingato, although we love them all.)  My heart aches for the driver’s increased exposure while I am able to telework and keep my risk low. It hardly seems fair.  I am very proud of the commitment of the drivers, now more than ever. 

I'm also reading a lot, but with libraries closed, I'm relying on the Little Free Library boxes I find around me in North Minneapolis. These not-my-first-choice books are expanding my horizons in sometimes hilarious ways. Early on in the pandemic, I initiated a Zoom call that has become the highlight of my week. It was just going to be with my closest friends. But you know how friends are always asking after each others’ families? So I set up a conference call for all my friends and their siblings so we could just ask about each other directly. Now, every Thursday night I connect with these amazing women and their siblings in cities all over the U.S.  I didn’t know it would turn into a recurring thing, but here we are three months later and it is great to have friend support and get to know their siblings better.

Above: Linnae, her son and Operator Machelle (Mickey) Albert at a recent Metro Transit supply drive. Photo courtesy Jim Lester.

Learn more about Metro Transit's response to COVID-19

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Metro Transit is playing an essential role in the region's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consider showing your support for our essential workers by: