Metro ‘regrets’ abandoned contract talks with union

Photo: CNN

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Contract talks between WMATA and its employees’ union, ATU Local 689, have been broken off, a situation Metro management says it regrets.

Metro referred to the contract talks as “abandoned” by the union, while ATU Local 689 characterized the situation in a statement by saying, “WMATA’s bargaining representatives have forced the union to declare an impasse on contract negotiations.”

The union and management have officially moved from collective bargaining to arbitration, a change both the union and Metro assured will not have an impact on bus and rail service for customers.

Metro says their negotiating position relied primarily on preserving pensions and existing jobs, but ATU Local 689 said in their statement that they believe Metro plans to excessively cut salaries and health coverage.

The two bodies have been deliberating on a 2016-2019 contract for more than a year now.

“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,” said union president and lead negotiator Jackie Jeter.

Metro said in their statement that their cuts are aimed at ‘responsibly restraining future growth’ with solutions such as adjusting the retirement age, freezing the wages of top-earning workers, eliminating triggers that increase benefits ‘well beyond standard practices’, and increasing employee contributions for health and pension benefits, among others.

“Our proposal would have maintained previously negotiated raises for lower-wage workers in combination with savings in other areas. Management remains open to a compromise settlement that is not only fair to our valued employees but rationally addresses the substantial financial challenges facing Metro,” said Wiedefeld. “Failure to address Metro’s financial challenges will put jobs and benefits at risk.”