Metro Union and WMATA release statements ahead of meeting to avoid strike

WASHINGTON, DC – ATU Local 689 has accepted a meeting with Paul Wiedefeld’s designees for Tuesday. The union is prepared to sit down and have a genuine conversation about the issues that got us to this point. It is not our intention to disrupt the MLB All-Star game, and we would hope that WMATA shares our desire to talk in good faith and will not to use this meeting as a stop gap to get through the big day. We look forward to reporting back to our membership tomorrow afternoon what progress, if any, was made during the meeting.

WMATA Statement:

“First and foremost, it is important to keep the customers in mind—those who rely on Metro service every day, who support the regional economy and our federal government. To ensure that Metro is always there for the millions who rely on us, the region has made a commitment to increase capital investment in Metro with the understanding that a similar commitment be made by Metro to tackle tough issues, including solving growing costs. The General Manager and his team are working to make these difficult decisions while also protecting current employees. We must find solutions together by continuing to talk and listen, as Chairman Evans recently did in a meeting with union leadership. The collective bargaining process is the appropriate and legal path to finding solutions.”

ATU Local 689 Statement:

For the past two years, ATU  Local 689 has come to the WMATA board demonstrating to them the many ways Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld – the man that they hired – has been pissing on the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between ATU Local 689 and WMATA, and they still don’t get it.

The reason the members of our union voted to authorize a strike yesterday is because Wiedefeld refuses to abide by the CBA. Wiedefeld’s destructive tactics undermine the CBA and has got us to this point of impasse. It is time for him to take responsibility for his failure to hold up his end of the agreement and stop blaming his workers for the incompetence of him and his team.

Furthermore, the statement Metro issued earlier today is as tone deaf as it is willfully ignorant. Our riders are hurting and inconvenienced because of him. He has plagued riders with month-long shutdowns, raised fares, cut bus and rail service, and shortened operating hours. It is pitiful that he prefers to speak in the abstract than deal with the real issues he has with his workforce that is impacting the riding public.

Wiedefeld would also have the public to believe that he magically secured dedicated funding and our strike authorization is intended to undermine the progress we have made in securing this funding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our union and the labor community of this region worked tirelessly with our political allies to make dedicated funding happen, too. The worker issues we had with Wiedefeld existed while we were fighting for dedicated funding, but we put them aside for the good of the system while working to achieve a common goal. Now it is time for him to work with us.

The D.C. region is growing at a historic rate, but Wiedefeld and his conspirators in Virginia want to slow growth at Metro which is terrible for all parties concerned. Slowing growth means slowing the system, and slowing the system stunts the growth of our region.

Today’s statement by Metro is another reminder that Wiedefeld is unfit to do his job. The WMATA board needs to do to Wiedefeld what Larry Hogan did to him when he was at BWI airport and fire him.