The members of Local 689 are unfairly blamed on a constant basis for the shortcomings of Metro, but the facts from the NTSB report tell a different story and that is what needs to be addressed. We have been at the forefront of the safety culture conversation for years. The headline of the Washington Post article “Metro trains with passengers sent to investigate reports of smoke in tunnels? Union says it never heard of that,” is misleading in implying WMATA workers don’t understand the safety issues of the system that we serve day in and day out.
ATU Local 689 members follow the policies, procedures and practices according to Metro guidelines. Central should be doing the same, and if they are not, it is for the NTSB to take corrective action, not this union. Further, we applaud NTSB’s call for train operator investigations with passengers to end.
Tuesday’s report by the NTSB speaks for itself and should sound familiar to anyone who attended our public hearing on safety last year. At that hearing, Local 689’s President Jackie L. Jeter and the Interim General Manager Jack Requa moderated three respective panels of workers, riders and safety experts who all expressed concerns about the same things that the NTSB reported Tuesday. Following that hearing, Local 689’s president took the information from the hearing to WMATA’s board and outlined what changes needed to be made.
In addition to that, shortly after the L’Enfant Plaza incident, we outlined four major benchmarks that needed to be met by Metro immediately, and the Washington Post wrote an article on our demands.
Local 689 has been the loudest voice calling for safety changes and we stand ready to work with Metro to take positive long-term action to implement a safety culture that will not end when the NTSB investigation is complete.