September 18, 2018 --- Today’s announcement of requests for private contractors to bid on Silver Line extension work is another example of WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld's failed leadership and wasteful spending. The Local 689 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) plainly states that our union local is the exclusive bargaining representative of “all operating and maintenance employees of the Authority in the subway system.” Mr. Wiedefeld must respect and abide by the contract language, and we are prepared to compel him to do so through the negotiated grievance procedure immediately.
"America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his August 28, 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech. The march was held 55 years ago today.
In response to the confirmed report that a backpack of a janitorial contractor was found containing marijuana on Metro property (a drug-free workplace), ATU Local 689 releases the following statement:
Metro leadership needs to heed to warnings our union has been making for years about shoddy work, work rules violations, and safety lapses private contractors are performing by immediately ceasing to privatize any more Metro services. Metro has a responsibility to treat and discipline every person working at Metro the same, but they have not done so. For years, ATU Local 689 has presented to the WMATA Board and leadership evidence of private contractors cutting corners, most recently with our picture of a contracted bus operator openly using his cell phone while driving. If Metro took the appropriate disciplinary action with this incident, our union applauds them for finally being fair.
Forestville, Md. – August 15, 2018: In response to the interest arbitration decision on the Local 689/WMATA contract, ATU Local 689 releases the following statement:
We believe the independent arbitration panel came to a rational decision, under the current circumstances, for the interest arbitration on this 4-year contract. Although under normal circumstances the totality of this decision would not be adequate, we are willing to accept the terms of this final and binding arbitration award for what we believe is in the best interest of the system.
We look forward to Metro’s timely implementation and hope that leadership will not waste any more of the taxpayer’s money by seeking to undermine the contractual and agreed upon process for handling impasses, as specified in the WMATA Congressional Compact, by running to court.
In response to Metro’s announcement that it will award an operations and maintenance contract to TransDev for the WMATA Cinder Bed Road bus facility, ATU Local 689 releases the following statement:
Forestville, Md. – August 2, 2018: Today, Metro announced that it is ready to set Northern Virginia bus riders and taxpayers up for failure by awarding an $89 million private contract for Metro buses at the new WMATA Cinder Bed Road bus facility in Lorton, Virginia to the France-based company TransDev.
In no uncertain terms, the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 want Metro to be a safe, affordable and reliable transit system, and we know that privatization won’t make that happen, and we reach that conclusion based on the facts.
Washington D.C. – July 31, 2018: A privately-contracted track walker at Metro was spotted this morning on his phone at the Brentwood rail yard just days after the firing of a privately contracted Metro bus operator for the same offense.
The Metro Electronic Device Policy 5.03 (b)(1) states, “Using an electronic device while engaged in maintenance activities that require full attention for safe performance, such as, but not limited to, inspecting track or using power equipment, is prohibited.” The policy 6.05 goes on to state that first failure will result in a 5-day suspension.
“When members of ATU Local 689 get caught in violation of the electronic device policy they are almost always disciplined,” said Raymond Jackson, Second Vice President of ATU Local 689. “It is disgraceful that Metro can hire contractors, allow them to do shoddy work that Local 689 members have to go behind them to fix, and then openly violate WMATA policy and put riders in danger with no repercussion.”
Like the video of the bus operator, this photo is a reminder of the double standard in treatment and discipline between ATU Local 689 Metro workers and private contractors who get held to relaxed safety standards. Unlike ATU Local 689 members, these contracted track workers, who are hired to ensure the safety of the railroad, do not take the same drug testing, nor are they subject to the same criminal background checks.
“Contractors have no accountability,” says Jackson. “ Even when contractors get precise instructions, they will still do as they please because if an incident occurs, they can walk away blameless and throw the blame at Local 689 members. These contractors have no vested interested in our safety or why we have the safety rules that we do. Privatization is only about Metro making it appear that they are saving money when they are wasting it. Unfortunately, Metro is going to continue on this path of ramping up privatization until someone is hurt or killed, but even then they will still look for a way to blame a Local 689 members, as they have in the past.”
ATU Local 689 is, again, calling on Metro to utilize its workforce first as a cost-saving and safety measure to protect the riding public. Failure to do so will continue to amplify that the leadership of Metro, headed by Paul Wiedefeld, is not committed to a safe ride for Metro’s passengers.
MATA has a strict zero-tolerance electronic device policy, yet private contractors are not held to the same standard. All incidences where a Metro operator has an electronic device on his person result in a discharge on the first offense.
ATU Local 689 has taken 16 electronic device policy discharges in front of an independent arbitrator with the belief that the unique circumstances should not have risen to discharge. Among them was a bus operator who had a phone on his person (not using it) because his wife was in her 9th month of a difficult pregnancy that had the potential to be a medical emergency. The arbitrator still held up the Metro’s decision to terminate. Local 689 has lost every case taken to an arbitrator for violation of the policy.
Forestville, Md. --- July 12, 2018: Metro workers, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, are fed up with the disrespect from the WMATA General Manager to workers and riders, and are distributing a petition to fellow union members stating they have no confidence in his leadership of the workers and want him and his leadership team removed from their positions before they can do any more harm.
“For nearly two years we have tried to sit at the table and bargain with Paul Wiedefeld and his team in good faith,” said Local 689 President Jackie Jeter. “He has refused to bargain with us at every turn and continues to violate our negotiated contract. Instead, he is choosing to arbitrate issues that are already decided, along with issues negotiated and bargained in the past. We refuse to allow anyone at WMATA to make us afraid, intimidated, or bullied, so it is time for him to go.”
The relationship between ATU Local 689 and Paul Wiedefeld has been rocky nearly since the beginning of his tenure with the Authority. On April 27, 2017, more than 700 Local 689 members rallied outside WMATA’s headquarters while more than 100 packed the WMATA Board room during their meeting and presented Wiedefeld with nearly 1,000 member petitions demanding that he bargain with his workers in good faith after months of no progress.
The current petition (here) calls out Wiedefeld and his team for “trampling” on the Congressional Compact and Collective Bargaining Agreement, ignoring court orders to negotiate and reinstate employees, and contracting out work.
“The employee morale at WMATA is at an all-time low, and I have seen more than 700 employees leave the system since he got here. I have never seen numbers like that,” Jeter continued. “Every job eliminated or vacated has been filled with substandard contractors who are working below WMATA standards and without benefits. The riders and workers of this region deserve leadership that is going to move our transit system forward. All Paul Wiedefeld has done is make the system unstable and drive riders away. It is time for him to go.”
Elected officers from ATU Local 689 will continue distributing the petition this week and will present it to the WMATA board later this month.
Forestville, MD --- “The members of ATU Local 689 are fired up and ready to get to work for Roger Manno (MD-6) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), two candidates with strong track records for working families and a displayed commitment to safe, affordable and reliable transit,” said Jackie Jeter, President of ATU Local 689, a union representing more than 13,000 transit workers and their families in the Greater Washington area.
“Our union knows how important our role is in this critical year as the progressive tide continues to turn in our direction. We take our responsibility very seriously and have committed to work and get these two elected as our new representatives.”
To learn more about the candidates visit the websites of Roger Manno and Jennifer Wexton in the links.
International President Larry Hanley sends letter to Maryland lawmakers regarding essential funding for the MTA