Members of one of Metro’s unions voted Sunday on whether they authorize union leadership to call for a strike.
Metro released a statement in response to the strike authorization vote Monday afternoon, which stated, “The Authority does not want customers to suffer from additional service interruptions. Dialogue is ongoing between Management and Union officials to identify common ground on these matters, while keeping Metro safe, reliable and affordable for the region.”
David Stephen, spokesperson for the union Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said the union voted in favor of authorizing a union strike.
Although members agreed to authorize a strike it does not guarantee they will strike.
On Thursday, Stephen sent reporters a copy of a petition requesting removal of Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld from Metro.
Union members say they are not happy with decisions Wiedefeld has made regarding service and jobs within the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, according to a Local 689 news release. The author of the petition said employees request that Wiedefeld and his team be fired from Metro. Members accused Wiedefeld of violating the collective bargaining agreement between WMATA management and Local 689 members.
The petition stated, “The WMATA employees, represented by Local Union 689, sign this petition to declare that General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and the entire Executive Leadership Team is an impairment to the Metro transit system.”
Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said she and her members are frustrated with the outcome of their requests to meet with Wiedefeld about collective bargaining.
“For nearly two years we have tried to sit at the table and bargain with Paul Wiedefeld and his team in good faith,” Jeter said Thursday. “He has refused to bargain with us at every turn and continues to violate our negotiated contract.”
“Instead, he is choosing to arbitrate issues that are already decided, along with issues negotiated and bargained in the past,” she added. “We refuse to allow anyone at WMATA to make us afraid, intimidated, or bullied, so it is time for him to go.”
According to local media outlets, several Metrobus lines were late to pick up riders after several bus operators were tardy Thursday. However, union spokesperson Stephen denied knowing about any union-organized plan to arrive late to work. He said he could not comment on whether a group of employees agreed to report late on the same day, and only Metro could comment on whether employees arrived at their jobs on time. If hundreds of employees had in fact been late, he said he believed it would not be unusual.
“I think on any given day … less than 5 percent of your workforce showing up late is not exceptional,” Stephen said. “Much ado about nothing.”
Metro said in an alert July 4 that train operators and bus operators reported to work late, resulting in service delays of about 20 minutes.
“Metro service is experiencing delays due to bus and train operators’ reporting late to work as part of a collective labor action by their Union,” the employee said in the alert July 4. “Management is doing everything possible to continue to minimize delays to customers, as well as to ensure compliance with WMATA’s collective-bargaining agreement, including seeking legal remedies through the courts. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience.”