Good morning Mr. Chairman, board members, and Mr Wiedefield. My name is Wyane Anthony Garland. For years, we have watched mismanagement of funds and the struggle to maintain a respectful safety culture to protect the workers of WMATA; the riders; and the community it serves. For years, numerous scathing reports have come from Federal agencies such as the FTA and NTSB have acknowledged the obvious...ITS NOT WORKING. The FTA even threatened the Authority, just weeks ago, that it would withhold funding if you continued to not take safety serious.
In the past, WMATA and this Board, Coffman and Cantanya in particular, cost WMATAs none reps pension plan roughly $200,000,000 for their dereliction of duties as fiduciaries when they didn't select an insurance annuities firm as advised by the New England Pension Consultant Group, Cantanya and Coffman were later removed as WMATA pension trustees, at the time the plan was funded 140%.
For years, the Authority has made terrible decisions not only about safety but also about funding. WMATA chose to pay LTD benefits (long term disability payments) out of the pension plan costing millions of dollars to the plan. The Authority also took a pension holiday for 8 years in the 689 pension plan as the plan was funded 125% taking the profits but failing to make contributions to the plan each of those years.
As a common practice, this Board has rubber stamped WMATAs failed policies, and you have the blood of failing the riders and Local 689 members on your hands. Mr. Chairman this is your second stint on the board and the only thing that has changed is you endorsing your general manager to take Metro in the wrong direction.
Stop blaming the dedicated hardworking employees for your commitment to failed policies as the employees are the only functioning spoke in this wheel. Back off of the benefits package that is earned by these employees of this workforce and DO YOUR JOB. Perhaps you should redirect your attention to those who benefit the most from this transit system. the developers, builders, the new Audi Field and the Verizon Center, MAKE THEM PAY their share.
Text: In January, at the ONLY public hearing you had before passing Mr. Wiedefeld’s budget, riders and workers turned out by the dozens to beg you not to eliminate routes and raise fares. You chose to ignore their pleas and in three days, fares will go up leaving many passengers stranded or forced into longer commutes.
On June 8th, your lack of transparency showed again as you called a special Board meeting to vote on a resolution supporting Mr. Wiedefeld’s "Keeping Metro Safe, Reliable and Affordable" and gave the public no opportunity for input. Not only that, you have yet to conduct case studies on Wiedefeld's plan to determine how his plan will affect the operations of WMATA in the long run. Your intentions were to push through a plan to privatize and make money off of our public transit system. Your actions show you have no regard for the working public that will be effect by these changes.
ATU Local 689 does. We've seen these plans in cities around the country. We see money hungry business owners making backroom deals with politicians that sell the hard working public down the river. That's why we've developed our own long term proposals. They're simple: Create a flat fare, make bus to rail transfers free, and open the system up again so this region can grow from its economic contribution. If you continue down this road, the blood of our public transit system will be on your hands.
Text: Endorsing Paul Wiedefeld’s plan by this board was an endorsement of making Metro smaller while everything in this region is growing larger.
As you look all around DC and the surrounding jurisdictions, apartments, homes and offices are being built faster than people can move in them, yet you support a plan that only wants to bring less to the table. We have communities and business THRIVING in places that used to look like farms and prairies because of WMATA. Taking Metro backward by shortening hours, cutting service and raising fares, as you are about to do next week, is nothing more than an endorsement of a plan to destroy Metro and make it inconvenient to those who need it the most.
By supporting Weidefeld’s plans you are literally locking out poor and working class people who need Metro to have access to school, work and training. Endorsing this plan puts the death of people’s ability to move upward economically on your hands. You have become directly responsible for the death of upward mobility in DC Metro and have the blood on your hands!
Text: When you endorsed Paul Wiedefeld’s long-term plan for Metro, you endorsed a plan to outsource operations and facilities of Metro to private contractors and agreed to force your own employees to have to bid for work that you already pay them for. Not only is this a financially irresponsible plan, it is disrespectful to your workforce and is a blatant attempt to destroy employee morale.
You don’t have to look very far to see how privatization of public transit is a plan for failure. Just look at the DC Streetcar, which has been riddled with cost overruns, broken commitments, blown deadlines and management decisions that have terrorized the workers.
Mr. Dormsjo, you know very well that privatization is a plan for failure because last year an audit exposed major safety issues at DC Circulator. More than 90% of the bus fleet was unsafe to be on the road and was put on the road by the private contractor First Transit anyway! On top of that, DDOT was exposed for not disclosing poor maintenance records. The department you direct.
Putting riders and workers under the direction of outside companies that will make transit more expensive, unsafe and unreliable is the wrong direction for Metro and it is mind boggling how this body could openly endorse a plan to make Metro worse while claiming to care about fiscal responsibility, safety and reliability. When this backwards plan for Metro fails – and it will – the blood will be on your hands.
Text: In October, ATU Local 689 members came in front of you and spoke to you about management’s lack of respect for safety at WMATA. They told you then that a true safety culture could not be achieved until safety rules are more than just talk and are not just something that is used to threaten and scare workers. Today we will tell you once again that a true safety culture will never be possible at WMATA because you and Mr. Wiedefeld are not committed to implementing one. On June 8th, you voted 14-1 to support Mr. Wiedefeld’s long term plan for WMATA. Not once in that plan does Mr. Wiedefeld discuss how he intends to implement a healthy safety culture.
When you talk about safety and then force your track employees to work in thunder and lightning, because the work has to get done, you are not committed to a true safety culture. Several weeks ago, the FTA threatened to withhold 25% of their federal funding because WMATA had not addressed systemic issues to protect the workers. That is not commitment to a safety culture.
If Wiedefeld had any intention of making Metro safe that he would work to empower employees and give us a voice through the creation of joint labor-management committees. Instead, he would rather allow a culture of intimidation and retaliation where worker protections go out the window. By endorsing his long term plan, you have condoned the culture that he has allowed. The next death is on your hands.
Text: Good Morning, my name is Carroll Thomas and I am the First Vice President of ATU Local 689. I have also been a Bus Operator for 18 years. Last month, our Financial Secretary Treasurer stood before you to discuss serious safety concerns that Local 689 has with operator and passenger assaults. Instead of paying attention to our serious and life-threatening concerns, Chairman Evans spent more time shouting him down. Today, I won't take nearly as long.
- 1 Min Of Silence -
That was only a minute of silence. That silence is what our operators hear when they try to contact Bus Operations Control Center after an incident occurs. In that minute, people can die, operators can get assaulted, and crimes can occur. Can you imagine how much worse it could be after 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or several hours? When will you get serious about protection of riders and workers? Can you imagine if that was your spouse, your child or your parent? You have blood on your hands.