“Our members are baffled by the position that Metro has taken to refuse to bargain in good faith at a time when Metro finds itself at a historic breaking point,” said Jeter. “WMATA has sought to scapegoat employees as the reason we have an underperforming transit system, but the notion that Metro is being brought down by the hardworking train operators, bus drivers, mechanics, trackwalkers and janitors who make the system run is ridiculous.”
“Metro employees are not asking for anything extraordinary,” Jeter continued. “In fact, a study commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and led by former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, found that labor costs at Metro are in line with other major transit systems around the country.”
Metro also advertises “competitive salary” and “medical/vision/dental coverage” on its website; two areas that Metro has proposed to make uncompetitive by leaving flat or drastically cutting.
Jeter said that the WMATA negotiating team has refused to reasonably negotiate on the important issues of fair wages, pensions, healthcare and safety. “Negotiations are give and take,” said Jeter. “All Metro wants to do is take. There is no way that Metro will improve if it plans to do so by destroying the morale of its workforce while offering less service and higher fares.”
Invoking arbitration is a right provided by the WMATA Congressional Compact and outlined in the union’s collective bargaining agreement that allows issues of the contract to be heard by a panel of three arbitrators – one chosen by the union, another by WMATA and a third independent arbitrator. Day-to-day service at Metro will not be affected by this action.
Earlier this year, ATU Local 689 rolled out a comprehensive plan on how to address the short- and long-term issues of Metro called “Fund it, Fix It, Make It Fair.”
“Local 689 members want what we all should want: a safe, affordable and reliable Metro,” said Jeter. “WMATA’s actions show that they do not share that vision.”