The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 applauds the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s call for immediate safety changes at Metro to protect riders and workers. The FTA's observations about fast moving trains through work zones --- that are supposed to be secured and protected, and are not --- are only the tip of the iceberg of the fatal flaws and ineffective safety culture at WMATA.
WMATA’s current flagging system nearly took the lives of Federal Rail Administration (FRA) track experts who were walking WMATA's tracks just last year. It is unacceptable and dangerous for WMATA’s flagging system to depend on hope and good luck to protect track workers. It is long overdue for WMATA to develop an adequate primary flagging system to provide “positive” protection to warn, slow and hold approaching trains until all employees are determined to be clear of oncoming trains.
Last month, ATU Local 689 rolled out an extensive list of proposals to save, stabilize and improve WMATA, including a commitment to institute labor management partnerships for safety. If WMATA is serious about addressing its safety failures, they will engage the workforce in creating a plan and stop putting its employees and riders in danger.
For many Metro workers, routine track work involves the art of survival, thanks to WMATA. If WMATA continues the reckless flagging practices to which it subjects its employees, there will be more close calls, serious injuries and even death at WMATA’s hands.