Dear Mayor Bowser,
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the D.C. Council, with your recommendation, appointed Corbett Price, a financial consultant and so-called organizational change agent, to the Metro board replacing Tom Downs until the end of June of this year. For more than three decades, Price has built a reputation as an anti-worker, union-busting, slash-and-burn executive consultant who puts profits over people and public welfare.
D.C. continues to be challenged by the task of protecting safe and affordable places to live for working families. Now you have appointed someone to the Metro board best known for cutting jobs and services. Your action is an attack on the quality of life not only for those employed by Metro, but also to the entire community who benefits from the economic activity that Metro and its employees create. No matter how “affordable” we work to keep housing and accommodations in D.C., no one can afford life in D.C. — or anywhere else — when their job have been eliminated and their community is devastated.
Martin DiCaro reported that you appointed Price because you are concerned about the state of Metro. But your criteria for his selection is unknown and, at the very least, flawed. You have already agreed to safety recommendations by Metro management (regarding Metro’s fatigue study of operators) that will require the Authority to hire additional operators. By appointing a board member who will work to eliminate jobs, you have demonstrated that you are not committed to honoring your agreement to keep workers and riders safe. You cannot say you are concerned about the state of Metro and then support an appointment to the Metro board that will harm the people that Metro serves and employs.
The workers of Local 689 take great pride in being a part of this community and being, what you described as, “Part of the backbone of [Washington D.C.’s] economy and our middle class.” Through our work, everyone - regardless of their zip code - have access to travel to the schools, homes and jobs you said you would focus on when you were a candidate. Given Price’s reputation, we have no reason to believe that he shares this commitment.
The Washington Business Journal reported that when Price served as an executive for Prince George’s County’s Dimensions Healthcare System, one of the first decisions he made was to fire 650 people --- nearly a quarter of the system’s staff. Within months of Price being promoted to the CEO of that system, the board opted to fire him and pay out the remainder of his contract because he had not satisfactorily turned around the hospital system and was harming the quality of care that the system provided. This is verifiable information.
Newsday reported that after he was fired from Dimensions Healthcare System, he then split his time between a hospital serving Brooklyn, New York’s poorest neighborhoods where he was paid a $500,000 salary, and D.C. General Hospital where he was paid $400 an hour. While earning his high salaries and consulting fees he slashed more than 1,200 jobs. As a result of those job cuts, the remaining workers said he caused critical harm to the quality of care that they could provide to its impoverished patients. This kind of track record illustrates a person who does not put the needs of the public or working families first.
Throughout your 2014 campaign, you expressed your intention to be an ally of DC transit and its workers, specifically those of Metro. I even served on your transition team. But now you have validated the skepticism that many of Local 689 members had regarding your commitment to protecting middle-class jobs at Metro and growing transit options for this region.
Up to now, we have appreciated your expressed willingness to work with our local to improve transit options for your constituents and this region. It is, in large part, the reason that the labor community united in supporting you as Mayor of D.C. It is our expectation that you honor your commitments to D.C.’s labor community and turn your rhetoric into action. Corbett Price is a roadblock to the growth and prosperity of DC Metro and has no place on the Metro Board.
Local 689 stands prepared to advise and consult with you to replace Price this summer and we look forward to you finding a demonstrated advocate of the people of D.C., transit workers, and expanded transit options.
Jackie L. Jeter
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689