Deidra SeSilva, Arthur Kelly, Derrick Nabers and Printis L. Dates, Jr. were among the Local 689 members who discussed labor concerns with the Virginia General Assembly on January 26.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 representatives met with Virginia House and Senate members on Monday to lobby for bills supporting the increase of the minimum wage, “Buy American” bills, and addressing safety on Metro in response to the Yellow Line smoke incident on January 12. Delegates Mark Keam and Patrick Hope represent districts that are serviced by the Blue and Orange Metro lines and pledged their support for safety. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also pledged his assistance in investigating of the Metro incident.
The first TSP class was conducted in March 13, 2000. Qualified trainees possessed at least two years electrical and/or mechanical vocational studies; passage of standardize reading and mathematics examinations; and passage of electrical and mechanical skills aptitude tests. Many classes have taken place to train qualified employees from BMNT, RCMT, ELEV/ELES (4 yrs), SMNT. Many thanks to WMATA and ATU former President Jimmy Allen, in working together to build this vision for the Technical Skills Program, which have release over 300 qualified students, and the success would not be if qualified mentors and supervisors that made it possible for these ten graduates who will move forward as C mechanics. Special thanks to WMATA Board of Directors, ATU Local 689 and WMATA Leadership.
On a snowy April 3, 1968, an exhausted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech in support of striking Memphis sanitation workers who were fighting for the right to organize a union. His words that night, known as the “Mountaintop” sermon, would inextricably tie his vision of dignity and equality in America to the Labor movement. It would also be his last speech before he was killed hours later.
Making it clear that he was growing impatient from the racial discrimination he continued to see, King said that it was “time to redistribute the pain.” He challenged the people of Memphis to stop patronizing businesses that sided with the mayor’s union-busting campaign like Coca-Cola and Wonder Bread. King preached that “all God’s children” deserved to live in dignity, reminding them, “Either we go up together, or we go down together.”
That night, King preached that respect for ones fellow man was the only way that economic opportunity and equality in America could be achieved. That belief brought him to support the strike for the mostly African-American workforce of sanitation workers. The workers carried signs during the strike that read “I Am A Man.” Like King, the strikers knew that if they were respected as men by their employer, the City of Memphis, they would not have to fight for a living wage to support themselves and their families.
While reflecting on why he was there to support the strike, King told the audience, “The question is not: ‘If I stop to help the sanitation worker what will happen to me?’ The question is: ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to them?’”
In King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, he preached, “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check…It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” Taking on a stronger tone, King returned to that theme in the Mountaintop sermon, telling the audience of three-thousand, “All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper.”
The Labor Movement now holds a responsibility to celebrate and continue the work for the vision King articulated that night: a vision of economic equality where every American can feed, clothe and house themselves and their family with family-sustaining wages and respect; a vision still unrealized.
King didn’t live to see the sanitation workers organize to become AFSCME Local 1733, but his life --- and death --- will always be a part of that local’s existence and the legacy of Labor in America.
Get Ready Because They Are Coming: the Republicans…Tea Party…British, or whatever you what to call them. But, as of January 2015, we will have to deal with them as a Union and Labor community.
Get Ready Washington D.C.
D.C. has a new Mayor and some newly elected councilpersons. The D.C. Cope committees, which consist of labor unions within the metro area, met with some newly elected office holders in December. They were very appreciative for the help from labor for help in getting them elected. They also committed to helping on issues of transit, education, building trades and housing, just to name a few. Their one ask of the committee was to have our members come out to their respective hearings on those issues. Electing them is only part of the solution. The councilpersons need to see and hear public support on the issues they raise, especially the newly elected councilpersons.
GET READY TO GET INVOLVED 689. The union will be calling on you to come out to hearings, whether they are neighborhood, full committee or rallies.
Get Ready Maryland.
You know by now, Maryland has a new Governor who happens to be a Republican. Under Governor O’Malley’s administration, Local 689 have been putting in our bid for the operation of the Purple Line, which is due to start construction in 2015 and could take up to five (5) years for completion. The International and Local 689 have met with the current administration and the only understanding we came away with was it would be a Private-Public Partnership (P3).
We also need to partner with Local 1300, our neighboring local in Baltimore. They will be bidding for a light rail system call the Red Line and together we will probably have a political fight on our hands with the new Governor. Together we can take a stand and make difference. GET READY TO GET INVOLVED 689. When the Union calls for you to do your part to attend hearing rallies or write your representative.
Get Ready Virginia.
We all know that some of our members live in this Right to Work State, which doesn’t directly affect us, but indirectly it could. Some recent decisions like the cancellation of the Arlington Streetcar project would have been an organizing effort for Local 689. Transportation growth in Virginia is something that we all need to continue pay close attention to with the expanded growth of the state and counties surrounding us in Virginia. We recently celebrated the opening of the Silver Line. The construction of that line continues and will extend to Dulles Airport. Bus transportation plays a major part with rail service with the opening of the Silver Line and to Dulles Airport. With the information the Union was able to get, there are currently 68 routes serving the Silver Line; eleven of which are Metrobus.
GET READY TO GET INVOLVED 689.
If nothing else, we must do our part to hold onto these routes and continue to lobby for more with the increase need for transportation Virginia and its counties. The building trades within Virginia need our help as well, because sustaining work for their Union members in a “Right to Work” state is very challenging, to say the least.
GET READY TO GET INVOLVED 689.
The Union will be calling on you to give a little of your time so that we can preserve our jobs, our families and our communities.
Roland H. Jeter is the 1st Vice-President/ABA for Local 689. He can be contacted at (301) 669-8223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS CONCERNING YOUR RIGHT TO UNION REPRESENTATION!!
Unionized employees have had the right to have a union representative present at interviews since 1975, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. Since the case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as Weingarten Rights.
The offices of the Local 689 Financial Secretary Treasurer and Recording Secretary are reporting that the dues credit for January 2015 was not applied to the accounts of those they were entitled to. This is due to some technical issues in WMATA’s Payroll office. Dues credit should be applied in February, March and April.