Current News

Subscribe to Current News feed
Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

Fired DC ATU 689 track workers sue Metro for racist discrimination, hostile work environment

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 07:16

Fired DC ATU 689 track workers sue Metro for discrimination, hostile work environment
" lawsuit argues that these kinds of retaliatory actions targeted African American workers, and were usually performed by white managers. The five plaintiffs, who are all black, say they were verbally harassed by managers. The lawsuit also points out that, of the 21 people terminated by Metro in the aftermath of inspection report investigation, all but two were black."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/05/02/fired-trac...
By Martine Powers May 2 at 3:02 PM

The July 29 derailment of a Silver Line train outside East Falls Church is believed to have been caused by deteriorating wooden rail ties, allowing the metal rails to spread too far apart. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Five former employees of Metro’s track inspection department are suing the agency, saying they were wrongfully terminated as part of an investigation into falsified inspection records.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that Metro had no evidence that the workers — two track walkers, two supervisors, and one maintenance manager — committed any wrongdoing. Instead, the workers’ lawyers argue, Metro officials sought to blame rank-and-file workers, who are predominantly black, and protect higher-ranking officials within the agency.

“Senior WMATA officials, who are predominantly Caucasian, willfully neglected job functions, including but not limited to, maintenance oversight and approval of safety measures, but were not disciplined,” the lawsuit alleges. “Instead, trackwalkers and other Inspection Department employees, who are predominantly African-American, were targeted for discipline as scapegoats for issues that resulted from the willful neglect of senior WMATA officials.”

[One-third of Metro’s track inspection department has been fired for falsifying records, Wiedefeld confirms]

The workers are suing Metro on one count of racial discrimination and one count of a hostile work environment. They are seeking damages from the transit agency, as well as back pay from the time that they were fired.

“We are unable to comment on active or pending litigation,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

The lawsuit comes three months after Metro officials announced they had fired, suspended or disciplined more than half the agency’s track inspection department as part of an investigation into inspection records that officials believed had not been accurately completed. That investigation came in response to the derailment of a Silver Line train near East Falls Church last July. The derailment was attributed to deteriorated rail ties that failed to keep the tracks from spreading too far apart.

[Metro officials may have known of track defect in 2009, NTSB officials say]

At the time that the firings were announced, General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said there “were systemic issues we were having in that department.” He said that many of the firings were not directly related to the section of the tracks where the derailment occurred.

But the workers’ lawsuit alleges that the wrongdoing came from upper-level management, who they say berated workers for taking tracks out of service due to safety defects. The workers tried to warn their managers about worsening conditions on the tracks or call attention to the problems, attorneys said, but their warnings were not heeded.

Metro’s conclusion that workers had filled out inspection reports without properly performing inspections was “completely fraudulent, and had absolutely no basis in fact,” the lawyers allege.

“It was widely known that senior WMATA officials would target trackwalkers for disciplinary action whenever they imposed legitimate speed restrictions to reduce the speed of trains for safety reasons, despite the fact that this was an essential function of a trackwalkers’ job,” the lawsuit said.

Additionally, the lawyers added, “Inspections Department employees were often punished and labeled as incompetent if they elected to restrict train speed.”

The lawsuit argues that these kinds of retaliatory actions targeted African American workers, and were usually performed by white managers. The five plaintiffs, who are all black, say they were verbally harassed by managers. The lawsuit also points out that, of the 21 people terminated by Metro in the aftermath of inspection report investigation, all but two were black.

Attorneys for the terminated workers argued that the blame for the July 2016 derailment should have been placed on Metro’s track maintenance department, which they say was aware of the worsening defects on the tracks and the urgent need for repairs.

“The Maintenance Department was fully responsible for the derailment, not the Inspections Department,” the lawsuit said. “WMATA chose to take no corrective or disciplinary action against the Maintenance Department, or senior WMATA officials who supervised the Maintenance Department, for the willful neglect of required track maintenance.”

Metro has three weeks to respond to the lawsuit.

[‘I just can’t seem to get a break’: After a year, Metro’s chief still faces an uphill climb]

Categories: Labor News

Fired DC ATU 689 track workers sue Metro for racist discrimination, hostile work environment

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 07:16

Fired DC ATU 689 track workers sue Metro for discrimination, hostile work environment
" lawsuit argues that these kinds of retaliatory actions targeted African American workers, and were usually performed by white managers. The five plaintiffs, who are all black, say they were verbally harassed by managers. The lawsuit also points out that, of the 21 people terminated by Metro in the aftermath of inspection report investigation, all but two were black."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/05/02/fired-trac...
By Martine Powers May 2 at 3:02 PM

The July 29 derailment of a Silver Line train outside East Falls Church is believed to have been caused by deteriorating wooden rail ties, allowing the metal rails to spread too far apart. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Five former employees of Metro’s track inspection department are suing the agency, saying they were wrongfully terminated as part of an investigation into falsified inspection records.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that Metro had no evidence that the workers — two track walkers, two supervisors, and one maintenance manager — committed any wrongdoing. Instead, the workers’ lawyers argue, Metro officials sought to blame rank-and-file workers, who are predominantly black, and protect higher-ranking officials within the agency.

“Senior WMATA officials, who are predominantly Caucasian, willfully neglected job functions, including but not limited to, maintenance oversight and approval of safety measures, but were not disciplined,” the lawsuit alleges. “Instead, trackwalkers and other Inspection Department employees, who are predominantly African-American, were targeted for discipline as scapegoats for issues that resulted from the willful neglect of senior WMATA officials.”

[One-third of Metro’s track inspection department has been fired for falsifying records, Wiedefeld confirms]

The workers are suing Metro on one count of racial discrimination and one count of a hostile work environment. They are seeking damages from the transit agency, as well as back pay from the time that they were fired.

“We are unable to comment on active or pending litigation,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

The lawsuit comes three months after Metro officials announced they had fired, suspended or disciplined more than half the agency’s track inspection department as part of an investigation into inspection records that officials believed had not been accurately completed. That investigation came in response to the derailment of a Silver Line train near East Falls Church last July. The derailment was attributed to deteriorated rail ties that failed to keep the tracks from spreading too far apart.

[Metro officials may have known of track defect in 2009, NTSB officials say]

At the time that the firings were announced, General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said there “were systemic issues we were having in that department.” He said that many of the firings were not directly related to the section of the tracks where the derailment occurred.

But the workers’ lawsuit alleges that the wrongdoing came from upper-level management, who they say berated workers for taking tracks out of service due to safety defects. The workers tried to warn their managers about worsening conditions on the tracks or call attention to the problems, attorneys said, but their warnings were not heeded.

Metro’s conclusion that workers had filled out inspection reports without properly performing inspections was “completely fraudulent, and had absolutely no basis in fact,” the lawyers allege.

“It was widely known that senior WMATA officials would target trackwalkers for disciplinary action whenever they imposed legitimate speed restrictions to reduce the speed of trains for safety reasons, despite the fact that this was an essential function of a trackwalkers’ job,” the lawsuit said.

Additionally, the lawyers added, “Inspections Department employees were often punished and labeled as incompetent if they elected to restrict train speed.”

The lawsuit argues that these kinds of retaliatory actions targeted African American workers, and were usually performed by white managers. The five plaintiffs, who are all black, say they were verbally harassed by managers. The lawsuit also points out that, of the 21 people terminated by Metro in the aftermath of inspection report investigation, all but two were black.

Attorneys for the terminated workers argued that the blame for the July 2016 derailment should have been placed on Metro’s track maintenance department, which they say was aware of the worsening defects on the tracks and the urgent need for repairs.

“The Maintenance Department was fully responsible for the derailment, not the Inspections Department,” the lawsuit said. “WMATA chose to take no corrective or disciplinary action against the Maintenance Department, or senior WMATA officials who supervised the Maintenance Department, for the willful neglect of required track maintenance.”

Metro has three weeks to respond to the lawsuit.

[‘I just can’t seem to get a break’: After a year, Metro’s chief still faces an uphill climb]

Categories: Labor News

UPS IBT Local 2727 air maintenance workers threaten strike ahead of shareholders meeting

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 19:18

UPS IBT Local 2727 air maintenance workers threaten strike ahead of shareholders meeting

http://in.reuters.com/article/united-parcel-strike-idINL1N1I101E

By Luciana Lopez | APRIL 30
A union representing 1,200 U.S. air maintenance workers at United Parcel Service Inc turned up pressure on the company on Sunday to settle a three-year contract dispute, saying it would seek clearance to strike.

The union is taking its grievances directly to UPS shareholders, running as an advertisement an open letter to David Abney, the company’s chief executive officer, ahead of a Thursday shareholders meeting.

The letter, which has been delivered to board members, was signed by nearly 78 percent of members of Local 2727 of the Teamsters union, asking the company to maintain air mechanics’ current health plan and not demand other concessions.

“We’re not willing to back off of this and we will strike over it,” said Tim Boyle, the local president.

Union members will also protest at the UPS shareholders’ meeting on Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware. That will include both protests outside the meeting and, for union members who are also shareholders, questions to company officials inside.

The local plans additional protests on Tuesday in Atlanta, where the company is headquartered.

The union already voted in November to strike, but saw that request denied by federal authorities. The air maintenance workers are governed by the U.S. Railway Labor Act, which only allows strikes after it finds negotiations and mediation have failed.

But if the company does not agree to keep members’ health plans intact at the next bargaining session, on May 11 and May 12, Boyle said the union would ask again for permission to strike.

“If the company doesn’t back off we’ll submit another request to the mediator to be released” to strike, Boyle said.

Even if the board grants permission, though, a strike would take at least another 30 days because of other procedural hurdles.

A strike could ground the package delivery company’s airplanes and disrupt packages sent by air, even as UPS and its rivals grapple with higher costs for surging e-commerce business.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Tags: IBT UPS Mechanicsstrike
Categories: Labor News

Solidarity From TWSC to 13 Jailed India Murati Suzuki Auto Workers

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 16:25

Solidarity From TWSC to 13 Jailed India Murati Suzuki Auto Workers
The Transport Workers Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC) sends greetings to the 13 jailed auto worker of Murati Suzuki plant on May Day 2017. Your fight for freedom is part of our international struggle for worker and human rights. The Indian government like the US government represent the same multi-nationals that have framed you up and jailed you. We will continue to demand your freedom and support the international campaign. An injury to one is an injury to all!
For Your Freedom and Victory,
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
www.transportworkers.org

Tags: India Suzuki Murati Workersrepression
Categories: Labor News

Solidarity From TWSC to 13 Jailed India Murati Suzuki Auto Workers

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 16:25

Solidarity From TWSC to 13 Jailed India Murati Suzuki Auto Workers
The Transport Workers Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC) sends greetings to the 13 jailed auto worker of Murati Suzuki plant on May Day 2017. Your fight for freedom is part of our international struggle for worker and human rights. The Indian government like the US government represent the same multi-nationals that have framed you up and jailed you. We will continue to demand your freedom and support the international campaign. An injury to one is an injury to all!
For Your Freedom and Victory,
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
www.transportworkers.org

Tags: India Suzuki Murati Workersrepression
Categories: Labor News

West Coast ILWU dockworkers to vote on deal seeking labor peace

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 21:33

West Coast ILWU dockworkers to vote on deal seeking labor peace
Updated 8:42 pm, Friday, April 28, 2017
http://www.timesunion.com/news/us/article/West-Coast-dockworkers-to-vote...

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dockworkers were given the chance Friday to vote on a new contract extension that could provide long-term labor peace at West Coast seaports, where in recent years work slowdowns and strikes have affected billions of dollars in cargo.
Union delegates for 29 ports from Washington to California voted to allow about 20,000 rank-and-file members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to vote on a proposal from employers.
The deal from the Pacific Maritime Association would move the expiration date of the current contract from 2019 to 2022.
The offer includes a wage increase of 3.1 percent per year and pension increases.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping companies and port terminal operators, praised the decision to bring the offer to a vote.
"Extending our contract would maintain stability on the waterfront for the next five years - a crucial time as the West Coast waterfront faces increased competition from other North American ports, and as the maritime industry continues to battle global economic challenges," spokesman Wade Gates said.
West Coast ports handle a huge volume of trans-Pacific trade that is vital to the U.S. economy. They include the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports which together form the largest container shipping port in the nation.
But the ports also have a contentious labor history.
In early 2015, bitter negotiations over the contract now in effect caused major disruptions in the flow of cargo. Ports from San Diego to Seattle were all but shut down as the two sides haggled. Companies that accused workers of coordinated slowdowns decided to cut their shifts, shuttering ports on nights and weekends.
The tit-for-tat led to long lines of ships queueing outside of harbors, waiting for space at the docks.
Other strikes and lockouts affecting longshoremen, port clerks and truckers have also proven costly over the years.
The contract extension is aimed at ensuring West Coast ports remain a reliable gateway for international commerce. Importers and exporters have another option in the newly expanded Panama Canal, which allows larger ships to ply the route between the East and Gulf coasts and Asia. Ports on the Pacific coast of Mexico and Canada also are vying for U.S. business.

Tags: ilwuWest Coast ContractPMA6 year contract
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Metro Workers Turn Backs on WMATA Board, Walk Out of Meeting: "Who moves this city? We move this city!" Relations between WMATA and ATU Local 689 took a turn for the worse at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:44

DC ATU 689 Metro Workers Turn Backs on WMATA Board, Walk Out of Meeting: "Who moves this city? We move this city!" Relations between WMATA and ATU Local 689 took a turn for the worse at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - April 27, 2017 4:26 pm ET

https://patch.com/district-columbia/washingtondc/metro-workers-turn-back...
By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - April 27, 2017 4:26 pm ET

WASHINGTON, DC — Metro workers marched out of a contentious WMATA board meeting in D.C. Thursday afternoon as the contract dispute between the two sides continue to intensify. The video of the confrontation is embedded below.

The video shows the workers, who were wearing shirts that say "Stop Service Cuts" and "Bargain in Good Faith," walking out of the meeting while chanting, "Who moves this city? We move this city!"

Earlier this week, WMATA responded to a rumored Metro worker "sick-out" by denying the requests of 500 workers who asked for sick days this weekend. ATU Local 689 denies it was behind the "sick-out," but also slammed WMATA for rejecting the sick day requests and criticized Metro's policy of requiring advance notice.

The union announced in a statement issued at around 4 p.m. Thursday that a protest including "doctors, WMATA employees, riders and advocates" would take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the Western Bus Garage in Northwest.

"WMATA’s sick leave policy requires that workers call out of work 72 hours in advance if they need to take a sick day," the statement reads. "This policy is unsafe, and further illustrates WMATA’s complete disregard for the health, safety and well-being of their employees and riders."

The disagreement between Metro and the union go far deeper than the sick leave policy. As part of Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld's efforts to bring costs under controls, WMATA is proposing to scale back worker benefits and force them to compete with contractors in some cases, prompting a backlash from the union.

Tags: ATU 689DC Metro
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Metro Workers Turn Backs on WMATA Board, Walk Out of Meeting: "Who moves this city? We move this city!" Relations between WMATA and ATU Local 689 took a turn for the worse at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:44

DC ATU 689 Metro Workers Turn Backs on WMATA Board, Walk Out of Meeting: "Who moves this city? We move this city!" Relations between WMATA and ATU Local 689 took a turn for the worse at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - April 27, 2017 4:26 pm ET

https://patch.com/district-columbia/washingtondc/metro-workers-turn-back...
By Dan Taylor (Patch Staff) - April 27, 2017 4:26 pm ET

WASHINGTON, DC — Metro workers marched out of a contentious WMATA board meeting in D.C. Thursday afternoon as the contract dispute between the two sides continue to intensify. The video of the confrontation is embedded below.

The video shows the workers, who were wearing shirts that say "Stop Service Cuts" and "Bargain in Good Faith," walking out of the meeting while chanting, "Who moves this city? We move this city!"

Earlier this week, WMATA responded to a rumored Metro worker "sick-out" by denying the requests of 500 workers who asked for sick days this weekend. ATU Local 689 denies it was behind the "sick-out," but also slammed WMATA for rejecting the sick day requests and criticized Metro's policy of requiring advance notice.

The union announced in a statement issued at around 4 p.m. Thursday that a protest including "doctors, WMATA employees, riders and advocates" would take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the Western Bus Garage in Northwest.

"WMATA’s sick leave policy requires that workers call out of work 72 hours in advance if they need to take a sick day," the statement reads. "This policy is unsafe, and further illustrates WMATA’s complete disregard for the health, safety and well-being of their employees and riders."

The disagreement between Metro and the union go far deeper than the sick leave policy. As part of Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld's efforts to bring costs under controls, WMATA is proposing to scale back worker benefits and force them to compete with contractors in some cases, prompting a backlash from the union.

Tags: ATU 689DC Metro
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 698 Union walkout, board grilling on safety, leave Metro GM Wiedefeld on the defensive

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:42

DC ATU 698 Union walkout, board grilling on safety, leave Metro GM Wiedefeld on the defensive
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/d2efb006-2b72-11e7-a616-d7…
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. (Cliff Owen/AP)
By Faiz Siddiqui and Robert McCartney April 27 at 6:42 PM
Federal concerns about worker safety lapses combined with growing union tensions and an early morning Red Line meltdown culminated in one of the most contentious board meetings of Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s tenure Thursday.
As board members scrutinized Wiedefeld’s progress on safety, scores of union workers stormed out of the agency’s headquarters chanting “Who moves this city? We move this city!” in the latest example of rising tensions between the two sides during contentious labor negotiations.
Wiedefeld spent much of the meeting on the defensive — at one point forced to reaffirm his faith in top Metro leadership after a board member questioned whether any progress was being made, or the beleaguered agency was simply slipping back into old habits.
The protest — the second in a row at a board meeting — underscored the potential for labor unrest at a time when Wiedefeld is seeking major concessions from the union. He also is engaged in discussions with elected officials and business groups who are pushing Metro to cut labor costs in exchange for more money for operations and capital projects.
[FTA threatens to withhold millions in funding if Metro doesn’t make urgent fixes to address worker safety]
“Any time you’re in contract negotiations, it can be tough,” Wiedefeld said after the demonstration. “Unfortunately, I think we’ve had some issues here that I’m raising that I feel need to be addressed. It plays out the way it plays out. I intend to be very civil in our reaction, and professional in anything we do.”
Speaking to reporters outside Metro headquarters shortly after the chanting exodus, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said Metro management is seeking concessions that would reduce workers’ total wage and benefits package by $100 million.
[How best to pay for Metro’s needs? A regionwide sales tax, say local officials in major report.]
“They want to change everything: wages, pensions, health care, vacation,” Jeter said.
She said management is not offering any wage increases in the next contract, while the union is seeking annual 2 percent increases for the life of the contract. The last contract was four years; the length of the contract under negotiation has not been determined.
Jeter accused Wiedefeld of publicly saying that only future hires would receive less-generous pension benefits, while at the same time negotiating to reduce the value of pensions for current employees, as well.
Wiedefeld declined to discuss contract negotiations.
“We have a confidentiality agreement,” Wiedefeld said. “We signed onto it, and I’m going to hold onto it.”
Jeter said she was breaking the agreement because in her view, Wiedefeld had done so when he outlined his long-term financial plan for Metro last week, which includes several concessions he is seeking from the unions.
[Metro says it will expedite Red Line repairs after nightmare commute Thursday morning]
The union protest was part of what had been a bad morning for Wiedefeld. A chaotic commute drew national attention to the transit system after stray electrical current caused smoke to pour into a Red Line tunnel in one of the system’s busiest corridors. Wiedefeld said the meltdown underscored the need for the preventive maintenance program he plans to institute beginning July 1.
“We have to work through decades of not maintaining things, things aging out, and we have to replace them,” he said. “That is not going to be solved overnight.”
Then the board hammered Wiedefeld and his safety chief with questions about a Federal Transit Administration letter that cited the agency for ongoing deficiencies in safety protocol for track workers, which have placed them in harm’s way four times recently, the federal oversight body said.
[FTA threatens to withhold millions in funding if Metro doesn’t make urgent fixes to address worker safety]
FTA wrote to Metro this week ordering the agency to submit plans to address six deficiencies related to roadway worker protection within five business days or risk losing up to 25 percent of formula-based grant funds until the issues are addressed. The agency stands to lose millions in federal funding.
Metro said it will submit the plans by Monday
Among those plans, it said, is a multitiered safety system, including a track worker waving a large orange flag to mark a work zone, and a blinking light as an additional precaution. Meanwhile, train operators will hear a “script” with specific information about the work zone and protective measures in place. Metro said it will inform workers of the changes at a safety stand-down in May.
Still, board members said the letter — raising renewed concerns over the agency’s troubled Rail Operations Control Center — highlights an information disconnect between the transit agency and its governing board.
“What I’m reading between the lines is we’re not getting an accurate portrayal of what’s going on,” said board member Leif A. Dormsjo, pressing Wiedefeld on ongoing issues in the ROCC. “We’re kind of slipping back into old WMATA, where management kind of glosses over problems and doesn’t provide us a clear understanding of what’s going on.
“We’ve been through other safety directors and we may have to go through more,” said Dormsjo, who is director of the District Department of Transportation.
The ROCC, which acts like air traffic control for the rail system, was cited by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation of the January 2015 L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident.
“I would disagree — I think we are not glossing over anything,” Wiedefeld said. “We’ve worked through this, we are working through this and we continue to do it. There’s other issues that we need in terms of resources.”
“I know there’s been a tremendous change in the approach,” Wiedefeld added later.
In one incident noted in the FTA letter, a train nearly struck two federal inspectors and a Metro track worker near Reagan National Airport station in October, after a train zipped around a blind corner faster than the 10 mph speed limit, forcing the three to jump out of the way.
“I was surprised by the letter, because I thought relationships and work relationships were proceeding well,” said board member Carol Carmody. “FTA said they are — they were satisfied with the relationship here. They thought WMATA was working very hard. Their concern was there have been some incidents with roadway safety and they felt that as a regulator they needed to get out there with the letter, with recommendations and some actions required.”
Board member Michael Goldman pressed Wiedefeld and Chief Safety Officer Patrick Lavin on why Metro had continued trouble hiring and maintaining qualified rail traffic controllers. Lavin and Wiedefeld said the process requires time and rigorous training, with Lavin adding that it took eight months to ready a rail controller for the job, and that failure and attrition rates also interfered with the process.
“Through the years, I’ve heard that,” Goldman said. “Every CEO, every chief safety officer has told this board that . . . new controllers would be hired and the problem resolved soon. There seems to be something much more going on if we really can’t staff up the number of rail operations control center controllers after two-and-a-half, three years.”
Later at the full board meeting, dozens of union members, wearing black T-shirts with “Fix It Fund It” and “Bargain in Good Faith” packed the hearing room and then erupted in chants.
The woman who led the cries, union organizer Jampsea Campbell, accused Wiedefeld of divisive tactics intended to break up the union.
Wiedefeld, peering over his shoulder at the demonstration, folded his hands in his lap before turning back to the board.

Tags: ATU 698health and safetycontract fight
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 698 Union walkout, board grilling on safety, leave Metro GM Wiedefeld on the defensive

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:42

DC ATU 698 Union walkout, board grilling on safety, leave Metro GM Wiedefeld on the defensive
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/d2efb006-2b72-11e7-a616-d7…
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. (Cliff Owen/AP)
By Faiz Siddiqui and Robert McCartney April 27 at 6:42 PM
Federal concerns about worker safety lapses combined with growing union tensions and an early morning Red Line meltdown culminated in one of the most contentious board meetings of Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s tenure Thursday.
As board members scrutinized Wiedefeld’s progress on safety, scores of union workers stormed out of the agency’s headquarters chanting “Who moves this city? We move this city!” in the latest example of rising tensions between the two sides during contentious labor negotiations.
Wiedefeld spent much of the meeting on the defensive — at one point forced to reaffirm his faith in top Metro leadership after a board member questioned whether any progress was being made, or the beleaguered agency was simply slipping back into old habits.
The protest — the second in a row at a board meeting — underscored the potential for labor unrest at a time when Wiedefeld is seeking major concessions from the union. He also is engaged in discussions with elected officials and business groups who are pushing Metro to cut labor costs in exchange for more money for operations and capital projects.
[FTA threatens to withhold millions in funding if Metro doesn’t make urgent fixes to address worker safety]
“Any time you’re in contract negotiations, it can be tough,” Wiedefeld said after the demonstration. “Unfortunately, I think we’ve had some issues here that I’m raising that I feel need to be addressed. It plays out the way it plays out. I intend to be very civil in our reaction, and professional in anything we do.”
Speaking to reporters outside Metro headquarters shortly after the chanting exodus, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said Metro management is seeking concessions that would reduce workers’ total wage and benefits package by $100 million.
[How best to pay for Metro’s needs? A regionwide sales tax, say local officials in major report.]
“They want to change everything: wages, pensions, health care, vacation,” Jeter said.
She said management is not offering any wage increases in the next contract, while the union is seeking annual 2 percent increases for the life of the contract. The last contract was four years; the length of the contract under negotiation has not been determined.
Jeter accused Wiedefeld of publicly saying that only future hires would receive less-generous pension benefits, while at the same time negotiating to reduce the value of pensions for current employees, as well.
Wiedefeld declined to discuss contract negotiations.
“We have a confidentiality agreement,” Wiedefeld said. “We signed onto it, and I’m going to hold onto it.”
Jeter said she was breaking the agreement because in her view, Wiedefeld had done so when he outlined his long-term financial plan for Metro last week, which includes several concessions he is seeking from the unions.
[Metro says it will expedite Red Line repairs after nightmare commute Thursday morning]
The union protest was part of what had been a bad morning for Wiedefeld. A chaotic commute drew national attention to the transit system after stray electrical current caused smoke to pour into a Red Line tunnel in one of the system’s busiest corridors. Wiedefeld said the meltdown underscored the need for the preventive maintenance program he plans to institute beginning July 1.
“We have to work through decades of not maintaining things, things aging out, and we have to replace them,” he said. “That is not going to be solved overnight.”
Then the board hammered Wiedefeld and his safety chief with questions about a Federal Transit Administration letter that cited the agency for ongoing deficiencies in safety protocol for track workers, which have placed them in harm’s way four times recently, the federal oversight body said.
[FTA threatens to withhold millions in funding if Metro doesn’t make urgent fixes to address worker safety]
FTA wrote to Metro this week ordering the agency to submit plans to address six deficiencies related to roadway worker protection within five business days or risk losing up to 25 percent of formula-based grant funds until the issues are addressed. The agency stands to lose millions in federal funding.
Metro said it will submit the plans by Monday
Among those plans, it said, is a multitiered safety system, including a track worker waving a large orange flag to mark a work zone, and a blinking light as an additional precaution. Meanwhile, train operators will hear a “script” with specific information about the work zone and protective measures in place. Metro said it will inform workers of the changes at a safety stand-down in May.
Still, board members said the letter — raising renewed concerns over the agency’s troubled Rail Operations Control Center — highlights an information disconnect between the transit agency and its governing board.
“What I’m reading between the lines is we’re not getting an accurate portrayal of what’s going on,” said board member Leif A. Dormsjo, pressing Wiedefeld on ongoing issues in the ROCC. “We’re kind of slipping back into old WMATA, where management kind of glosses over problems and doesn’t provide us a clear understanding of what’s going on.
“We’ve been through other safety directors and we may have to go through more,” said Dormsjo, who is director of the District Department of Transportation.
The ROCC, which acts like air traffic control for the rail system, was cited by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation of the January 2015 L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident.
“I would disagree — I think we are not glossing over anything,” Wiedefeld said. “We’ve worked through this, we are working through this and we continue to do it. There’s other issues that we need in terms of resources.”
“I know there’s been a tremendous change in the approach,” Wiedefeld added later.
In one incident noted in the FTA letter, a train nearly struck two federal inspectors and a Metro track worker near Reagan National Airport station in October, after a train zipped around a blind corner faster than the 10 mph speed limit, forcing the three to jump out of the way.
“I was surprised by the letter, because I thought relationships and work relationships were proceeding well,” said board member Carol Carmody. “FTA said they are — they were satisfied with the relationship here. They thought WMATA was working very hard. Their concern was there have been some incidents with roadway safety and they felt that as a regulator they needed to get out there with the letter, with recommendations and some actions required.”
Board member Michael Goldman pressed Wiedefeld and Chief Safety Officer Patrick Lavin on why Metro had continued trouble hiring and maintaining qualified rail traffic controllers. Lavin and Wiedefeld said the process requires time and rigorous training, with Lavin adding that it took eight months to ready a rail controller for the job, and that failure and attrition rates also interfered with the process.
“Through the years, I’ve heard that,” Goldman said. “Every CEO, every chief safety officer has told this board that . . . new controllers would be hired and the problem resolved soon. There seems to be something much more going on if we really can’t staff up the number of rail operations control center controllers after two-and-a-half, three years.”
Later at the full board meeting, dozens of union members, wearing black T-shirts with “Fix It Fund It” and “Bargain in Good Faith” packed the hearing room and then erupted in chants.
The woman who led the cries, union organizer Jampsea Campbell, accused Wiedefeld of divisive tactics intended to break up the union.
Wiedefeld, peering over his shoulder at the demonstration, folded his hands in his lap before turning back to the board.

Tags: ATU 698health and safetycontract fight
Categories: Labor News

US Congress Declares War on DC ATU 698-They Want Privatization of Metro

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 09:17

US Congress Declares War on DC ATU 698-They Want Privatization of Metro

DC ATU 698 Union: WMATA workers aren't planning sick out; president calls Metro absentee policy 'asinine'

http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/250902032-story

By: fox5dc.com staff
POSTED:APR 26 2017 03:08PM EDT
UPDATED:APR 26 2017 05:11PM EDT

WASHINGTON - The union representing the majority of Metro’s workers says their members are not staging a “sick out” this Friday for transit agency employees, and that the union stands behind employees who are abiding by the absentee policy laid out by the transit agency.

This comes after WMATA said they had received an “unusually high” number of absence requests for Friday, and rumors surfaced of a possible “sick out” being threatened by employees. In a statement Tuesday, Metro said, “Management is staffing based on an unusually-high number of absence requests to ensure the delivery of service to customers.”

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, union representatives said no “sick out” was being staged by their organization, and they have not been contacted by WMATA about the rumors.

“The members of Local 689 take a great deal of pride in providing public transit in this region, and we would never stage an exercise to intentionally harm the riders of the Washington Metropolitan area,” ATU international representative Anthony Wayne Garland said.

Garland said the union was contacted Tuesday to ask if they were coordinating a sick out on Metro—but not by the transit organization.

“If management thought that there were a sick out stage by Local 689 and its members, it would have contacted the office here at Local 689. To this date, we have not heard from WMATA,” he said.

Union representatives say WMATA’s absenteeism policy requires that employees must give a three-day notice to have an excused absence, and that union workers are following policy. They added that any union member who called in on Tuesday to say they may be sick on Friday did so because WMATA’s absenteeism policy requires it. Garland called the absentee policy “ridiculous,” and Local 689 president Jackie Jeter agreed.

“We’re not calling a sick out,” Jeter said. “What members have done is abide by the rules and regulations that WMATA set forth. Their absenteeism policy requires that anyone who is going sick call out three days ahead of time, and that’s what they did.”

Jeter said she has no idea how many people have called in sick for Friday, and that reporters would have to ask WMATA that question.

Related Stories

Metro workers threatening 'sick out'?
Wiedefeld: $15.5 billion needed over 10 years
Man shot and killed overnight in Southeast DC
Abandoned puppy up for adoption in Maryland
“I don’t know how many people called out,” Jeter said. “I don’t know how many people normally call out. So, I don’t know if it’s normal or not. That’s what someone contacted the media and said. We didn’t.”

On Wednesday, Metro issued this statement on the number of people who requested for the day off on Friday.

"Metro received nearly 500 advance absence requests for Friday from bus and rail employees, a rate that is many times higher than normal," Metro said. "We have denied all of the requests. We expect to offer full bus and rail service for our customers as scheduled on Friday."

In response, Jeter said in a statement sent to the media and intended for Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld:

Mr. Wiedefeld,

Moments ago we received a copy of a statement from 3 media outlets regarding a denial of 500 sick leave request for Friday. Here is our question and response:

Will WMATA accept the responsibility of refusing a person who is legitimately sick from getting a doctor’s care Friday? Further, will you force them to operate vehicles that transport hundreds or possibly thousands of riders while ill?

We Look Forward to Your Response.
Jeter says the policy doesn’t just refer to scheduled time-off requests, but that it includes sick days and that if they don’t abide by the policy, employees will get eight points. WMATA gives points to employees as part of disciplinary action.

“The policy is asinine, because there’s nobody that works for any organization that I know of that can give a three-day notice telling them ‘I’m going sick,’ or ‘I’m going to have the flu on Tuesday, so I’m going to call you on Sunday,’” she said. ”That’s ridiculous. It does not make sense.”

The transit agency is currently in contentious contract negotiations with ATU Local 689, but Jeter said that this has nothing to do with that.

Jeter said the union supports actions of the members 100 percent, when they abide by the policies outlined by WMATA—and she said in this case, they have.

“I want to say again very clearly that we are committed to providing safe, affordable, reasonable, reliable transit system here at WMATA, and as members of Local 689. WMATA needs to get serious about protecting workers and riders, and they need to do it through labor-management collaboration, and stop trying to discipline their way to a safety culture because it does not work,” Garland said.

Tags: ATU 698privatizationconcessionsunion busting
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ and Union Busting Privatization Drvie By Metro Bosses

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 21:23

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ and Union Busting Privatization Drvie By Metro Bosses

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ Friday-DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ Friday-
Earlier this month, Metro sent an email to the union, warning them that they are not allowed to hold union meetings on Metro property.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/04/26/metro-work...

By Martine Powers April 26 at 4:44 PM
Metro’s union members are planning a sick-out Friday to protest the agency’s new absenteeism policy. (Luz Lazo/The Washington Post)
Members of Metro’s largest labor union are planning a “sick-out” Friday to protest the transit agency’s new absenteeism policy.

Metro said in a statement that the agency had received nearly 500 requests for advance absences for Friday, “a rate that is many times higher than normal.” All of those requests were denied.

“We expect to offer full bus and rail service for our customers as scheduled on Friday,” Metro said in a statement.

ATU Local 689 President Jackie L. Jeter accused the agency of putting workers and passengers at risk by rejecting the surge of requests.

“Will WMATA accept the responsibility of refusing a person who is legitimately sick from getting a doctor’s care Friday?” Jeter wrote in an email to Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, cc-ing members of the media on the message. “Further, will you force them to operate vehicles that transport hundreds or possibly thousands of riders while ill?”

On Wednesday afternoon, union representatives said they had not organized or coordinated a protest action. But when asked whether union members could have independently decided to stage their own informal “sick-out,” Jeter said “there’s always that potential.”

“There is a possibility that members have taken it upon themselves to start following the directives that WMATA has given,” Jeter said. “Local 689 supports the actions of the members 100 percent. … We support what they’re doing.”

In a memo sent by management Tuesday, and provided to The Washington Post by a Metro employee, a manager for rail station and train operations instructed depot clerks to deny all requests for a sick day on Friday, even if they provided the requisite 72 hours advance notice to the agency. (Workers can request and obtain “pre-approved sick leave” for absences required for medical appointments.)

“Employees cannot call out today and go sick on Friday. Any employee that calls today and inform[s] the clerk that they are going to be sick on Friday, must be told that they must report to work on Friday,” the memo said.

The memo from management also instructed staff to keep a list of all employees who request to take a sick day Friday.

“Keep a list of all your employees that call out for Friday. Use the below chart to keep us updated,” the email said.

Employees who fail to report to work on Friday will receive negative marks on their disciplinary record.

“If they fail to report to work they will be assessed 8 points for each day the employee does not report,” the memo said.

ATU Local 689 spokesman David Stephen said Metro workers have the right to take a sick day as long as they give three days’ notice, according to Metro’s new policy.

“WMATA’s policy requires that employees give a 72-hour advance notice in anticipation of being sick,” Stephen said. “If any Local 689 member has expressed to their superior that they may be sick on Friday they are adhering to WMATA’s own policy.”

Metro management issued new policies and regulations in February to crack down on absenteeism and curb overtime hours — a move that also involved an investigation into more than 100 workers who Metro officials believed were abusing the extended medical leave policy. The policy also added extra steps to vet workers’ medical absences, requiring that Metro’s internal Office of Medical Services — not workers’ direct supervisors — review and approve sick leave requests and doctors’ notes.

[Metro cracking down on worker absenteeism with new extended-leave policy]

But the union has honed in on one particular part of the new policy: “pre-approved sick leave.” Requests to miss work for doctor’s appointments or medical evaluations must be made “no less than three scheduled workdays prior to the requested leave date,” the policy says.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement with ATU Local 689, workers are entitled to 16 hours of medical leave per year specifically for medical appointments, though it does not specify how much advance notice must be provided for those appointments. Metro officials say workers are still allowed to call in sick on the day of their shift if they are experiencing sudden illness.

But ATU Local 689 officials say the policy has been implemented capriciously, with some workers receiving unexcused absences for failing to provide three days notice.

“Each department is doing something different,” said Anthony Garland, international representative for ATU Local 689. “Even with the policy itself structured the way that it is, they have a problem with implementing it because all departments are not actually up to speed with what’s supposed to be done.”

Said Jeter, “the policy is asinine.”

The standoff over the sick leave policy is the latest skirmish between Metro officials and the union while the two are in the midst of contentious contract negotiations. Earlier this month, Metro sent an email to the union, warning them that they are not allowed to hold union meetings on Metro property.

And on Wednesday, Jeter said she doesn’t see any rapprochement in sight — even as both the union and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld seek to persuade local jurisdictions to provide a long-term dedicated funding source for the transit agency.

“All I can see looming ahead of us is a fight and chaos,” Jeter said.

DC Metro Bosses In Union Busting Privatization Drive Against ATU 689 And Other Transit UnionsUnion dissent highlights difficulty of enacting Wiedefeld’s rescue plan for Metro
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/union-dissent-h...

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
By Robert McCartney, Faiz Siddiqui and Martine Powers April 20
General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s ambitious rescue plan for Metro drew a generally positive response Thursday, but a bitter dissent from the agency’s largest union was a sign of the formidable obstacles he faces.

Wiedefeld’s recommendations are “bad for riders, bad for workers and bad for the region,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 said in a statement. The union, which represents about 9,200 Metro workers, said Wiedefeld’s plans to outsource services and provide less-generous pensions to future hires aim “to balance the agency’s budget on the back of [Metro’s] hard-working employees.”

Overall, however, elected officials, transit advocates and business groups praised Wiedefeld for offering what many called a “reasonable” plan that deals head-on with the tough challenges facing the transit agency.

[Metro GM proposes ‘new business model’ and $500 million a year in extra funding to save D.C.-area transit agency ]

Although many disagreed with individual details, and the region’s top Republican officials were distinctly skeptical, most welcomed Wiedefeld’s call for new taxes or other dedicated sources of funding to channel an additional $500 million a year to Metro. The money would go to buy new rail cars, buses and other equipment, and perform the maintenance necessary to restore service quality after decades of underinvestment.

“This proposal appears to be a realistic and responsible contribution to the regional discussion about how best to fix Metro,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said.

Wiedefeld’s plan “is the best we’ve seen to date,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the pro-transit Coalition for Smarter Growth. “His statement is bluntly honest about the situation, and we generally endorse his proposals.”

Despite the applause, no one underestimated the political difficulty of extracting union concessions and winning support for higher taxes from multiple jurisdictions in the District, Virginia and Maryland. Many politicians and analysts said it will be necessary to go further than Wiedefeld’s proposals, by restructuring the Metro board of directors and adopting other reforms in how the agency is governed.

“I think you need some governance changes to show that the people who will be spending the money will be doing a good job,” said Maryland state Del. Marc A. Korman (D-Montgomery), co-chairman of a work group of Annapolis legislators focused on Metro issues.

Business groups such as the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council, and politicians have proposed to shrink the 16-member Metro board and apply new membership requirements to streamline the panel’s work.

“Governance changes are necessary to enable Paul [Wiedefeld] to make the changes necessary to return Metro to the world-class system it once was,” said Terry D. McAllister, chairman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Wiedefeld said it wasn’t appropriate for him to propose reforming the governance structure above him. But he also expressed concern that such changes — which would require amending the Metro Compact, or governing document — could delay agreement on urgently needed funding.

“If we get into a whole thrashing of some of those issues, I just think it could drag out for years. I don’t think we have years,” Wiedefeld said.

Thursday morning, after having spent the previous 24 hours briefing more than 50 government officials and other regional leaders about his plan, Wiedefeld readily acknowledged the difficulty of his task.

“It’s going to be an extremely heavy lift,” he said at a news conference.

But Wiedefeld said he was optimistic that the region could overcome its differences on taxes, labor relations and governance because so many people see the need to save the transit system.

“I think the agreement, if you step back, is that they all want to try to do something to get this right. So that’s a good place to start,” Wiedefeld said.

Wiedefeld is about to launch meetings with Metro staffers, elected officials and private groups around the region to explain his plan further and try to win support.

Described in a six-page “White Paper” and 27-page PowerPoint presentation, the proposal explains why Metro needs $15.5 billion in investment over the next 10 years — an average increase of nearly 30 percent from its previous plan — to keep the system safe and reliable.

To allay concern that Metro spending is headed out of control, Wiedefeld also proposed to cap the annual growth in jurisdictions’ annual contributions for operations and investments at 3 percent. That’s separate from the new $500 million capital fund and a new $26 million “rainy day” fund Wiedefeld has proposed.

In a related effort to hold down costs, Wiedefeld proposed major concessions by Metro’s unionized workforce. A key part of the plan is to amend a federal arbitration law to strengthen management’s position in contract disputes.

His proposal to outsource operations — a form of privatization — drew particular opposition from unions. As an example, Wiedefeld suggested Metro’s unions might have to compete with private contractors for jobs on the second phase of the Silver Line, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

[Metro isn’t hopeless. Here are 4 realistic reforms the region could agree on. ]

OPEIU Local 2, which represents many of Metro’s IT staff, engineers and contract administrators, doubted the plan would achieve significant savings. It also expressed concern that the quality of work would decline.

“He [Wiedefeld] thinks that contracting is a way to save money,” said Eric Starin, the union’s chief steward at Metro. “There might be rare incidents where that is true, but there are also an awful lot of incidents where it costs more money to contract work out.”

Wiedefeld’s privatization plan mirrors a similar strategy employed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston. In the past year, the MBTA has outsourced warehouse and money-room operations, efforts that are projected to save an estimated $177 million over the next 10 years.

The agency also used threats of privatization to reach a new, money-saving contract deal with one of its biggest unions. Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA chief administrator and acting general manager, said he met with Wiedefeld this year to offer advice on how to employ the same strategies in Washington.

Republican lawmakers in Congress and the Virginia General Assembly — and some Democrats in the region — have said Metro must curb labor costs before they would be willing to consider giving the agency more money.

Wiedefeld needs congressional support to extend the program under which the federal government grants Metro $150 million a year — and the three local jurisdictions match it — for investments.

But his plan got off to a rough start with a key House member, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), the only Republican in the local delegation in the GOP-controlled Congress. She complained Wednesday that she didn’t receive an adequate briefing about Wiedefeld’s plan, saying she heard only about the “huge price tag.”

Wiedefeld tried to patch things up Thursday, saying he already planned to meet with Comstock next week.

“I will work with her very closely to get her more comfortable with at least understanding what we’re trying to do,” Wiedefeld said.

Comstock said Thursday she still lacked enough information to comment about the specifics of Wiedefeld’s plan.
“I have asked for far more details on Metro’s operating and capital costs and the justifications for them than we have received to date,” Comstock said in a statement.

Wiedefeld’s plan also drew a tepid response from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Hogan’s office said it had not seen details of the plan but reiterated the governor’s position that it is up to local leaders in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties to pursue dedicated funding if they choose.

“A statewide tax is a nonstarter,” said Amelia Chasse, a Hogan spokeswoman. “One question our administration does have is why this proposed plan does not call for an increase in federal funding, when approximately 40 percent of Metrorail riders are federal employees.”

Elected officials will be pressing for abundant details about Metro’s spending before supporting taxes or other dedicated funding.“We need to know, for sure, what the cost is for what,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova (D) said. “We need to be assured that labor issues have been addressed. We also need to know that governance issues have been addressed.”

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said such questions would be considered by a panel headed by former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, which is to study Metro and make recommendations in the fall.

Wiedefeld’s plan “gives us a very, very good basis to make a political case along with the review that Secretary LaHood’s doing,” Layne said.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans stressed that there will be political cost for anyone who resists making concessions to make the plan work.

“Nobody’s going to look kindly on any party that says, ‘I’m not compromising,’ ” Evans said. “I think they’re going to find themselves left out in the woods.”

Tags: ATU 689privatizationContracting outworkplace policies
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ and Union Busting Privatization Drvie By Metro Bosses

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 21:23

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ and Union Busting Privatization Drvie By Metro Bosses

DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ Friday-DC ATU 689 Metro workers planning ‘sick-out’ Friday-
Earlier this month, Metro sent an email to the union, warning them that they are not allowed to hold union meetings on Metro property.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/04/26/metro-work...

By Martine Powers April 26 at 4:44 PM
Metro’s union members are planning a sick-out Friday to protest the agency’s new absenteeism policy. (Luz Lazo/The Washington Post)
Members of Metro’s largest labor union are planning a “sick-out” Friday to protest the transit agency’s new absenteeism policy.

Metro said in a statement that the agency had received nearly 500 requests for advance absences for Friday, “a rate that is many times higher than normal.” All of those requests were denied.

“We expect to offer full bus and rail service for our customers as scheduled on Friday,” Metro said in a statement.

ATU Local 689 President Jackie L. Jeter accused the agency of putting workers and passengers at risk by rejecting the surge of requests.

“Will WMATA accept the responsibility of refusing a person who is legitimately sick from getting a doctor’s care Friday?” Jeter wrote in an email to Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, cc-ing members of the media on the message. “Further, will you force them to operate vehicles that transport hundreds or possibly thousands of riders while ill?”

On Wednesday afternoon, union representatives said they had not organized or coordinated a protest action. But when asked whether union members could have independently decided to stage their own informal “sick-out,” Jeter said “there’s always that potential.”

“There is a possibility that members have taken it upon themselves to start following the directives that WMATA has given,” Jeter said. “Local 689 supports the actions of the members 100 percent. … We support what they’re doing.”

In a memo sent by management Tuesday, and provided to The Washington Post by a Metro employee, a manager for rail station and train operations instructed depot clerks to deny all requests for a sick day on Friday, even if they provided the requisite 72 hours advance notice to the agency. (Workers can request and obtain “pre-approved sick leave” for absences required for medical appointments.)

“Employees cannot call out today and go sick on Friday. Any employee that calls today and inform[s] the clerk that they are going to be sick on Friday, must be told that they must report to work on Friday,” the memo said.

The memo from management also instructed staff to keep a list of all employees who request to take a sick day Friday.

“Keep a list of all your employees that call out for Friday. Use the below chart to keep us updated,” the email said.

Employees who fail to report to work on Friday will receive negative marks on their disciplinary record.

“If they fail to report to work they will be assessed 8 points for each day the employee does not report,” the memo said.

ATU Local 689 spokesman David Stephen said Metro workers have the right to take a sick day as long as they give three days’ notice, according to Metro’s new policy.

“WMATA’s policy requires that employees give a 72-hour advance notice in anticipation of being sick,” Stephen said. “If any Local 689 member has expressed to their superior that they may be sick on Friday they are adhering to WMATA’s own policy.”

Metro management issued new policies and regulations in February to crack down on absenteeism and curb overtime hours — a move that also involved an investigation into more than 100 workers who Metro officials believed were abusing the extended medical leave policy. The policy also added extra steps to vet workers’ medical absences, requiring that Metro’s internal Office of Medical Services — not workers’ direct supervisors — review and approve sick leave requests and doctors’ notes.

[Metro cracking down on worker absenteeism with new extended-leave policy]

But the union has honed in on one particular part of the new policy: “pre-approved sick leave.” Requests to miss work for doctor’s appointments or medical evaluations must be made “no less than three scheduled workdays prior to the requested leave date,” the policy says.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement with ATU Local 689, workers are entitled to 16 hours of medical leave per year specifically for medical appointments, though it does not specify how much advance notice must be provided for those appointments. Metro officials say workers are still allowed to call in sick on the day of their shift if they are experiencing sudden illness.

But ATU Local 689 officials say the policy has been implemented capriciously, with some workers receiving unexcused absences for failing to provide three days notice.

“Each department is doing something different,” said Anthony Garland, international representative for ATU Local 689. “Even with the policy itself structured the way that it is, they have a problem with implementing it because all departments are not actually up to speed with what’s supposed to be done.”

Said Jeter, “the policy is asinine.”

The standoff over the sick leave policy is the latest skirmish between Metro officials and the union while the two are in the midst of contentious contract negotiations. Earlier this month, Metro sent an email to the union, warning them that they are not allowed to hold union meetings on Metro property.

And on Wednesday, Jeter said she doesn’t see any rapprochement in sight — even as both the union and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld seek to persuade local jurisdictions to provide a long-term dedicated funding source for the transit agency.

“All I can see looming ahead of us is a fight and chaos,” Jeter said.

DC Metro Bosses In Union Busting Privatization Drive Against ATU 689 And Other Transit UnionsUnion dissent highlights difficulty of enacting Wiedefeld’s rescue plan for Metro
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/union-dissent-h...

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
By Robert McCartney, Faiz Siddiqui and Martine Powers April 20
General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s ambitious rescue plan for Metro drew a generally positive response Thursday, but a bitter dissent from the agency’s largest union was a sign of the formidable obstacles he faces.

Wiedefeld’s recommendations are “bad for riders, bad for workers and bad for the region,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 said in a statement. The union, which represents about 9,200 Metro workers, said Wiedefeld’s plans to outsource services and provide less-generous pensions to future hires aim “to balance the agency’s budget on the back of [Metro’s] hard-working employees.”

Overall, however, elected officials, transit advocates and business groups praised Wiedefeld for offering what many called a “reasonable” plan that deals head-on with the tough challenges facing the transit agency.

[Metro GM proposes ‘new business model’ and $500 million a year in extra funding to save D.C.-area transit agency ]

Although many disagreed with individual details, and the region’s top Republican officials were distinctly skeptical, most welcomed Wiedefeld’s call for new taxes or other dedicated sources of funding to channel an additional $500 million a year to Metro. The money would go to buy new rail cars, buses and other equipment, and perform the maintenance necessary to restore service quality after decades of underinvestment.

“This proposal appears to be a realistic and responsible contribution to the regional discussion about how best to fix Metro,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said.

Wiedefeld’s plan “is the best we’ve seen to date,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the pro-transit Coalition for Smarter Growth. “His statement is bluntly honest about the situation, and we generally endorse his proposals.”

Despite the applause, no one underestimated the political difficulty of extracting union concessions and winning support for higher taxes from multiple jurisdictions in the District, Virginia and Maryland. Many politicians and analysts said it will be necessary to go further than Wiedefeld’s proposals, by restructuring the Metro board of directors and adopting other reforms in how the agency is governed.

“I think you need some governance changes to show that the people who will be spending the money will be doing a good job,” said Maryland state Del. Marc A. Korman (D-Montgomery), co-chairman of a work group of Annapolis legislators focused on Metro issues.

Business groups such as the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council, and politicians have proposed to shrink the 16-member Metro board and apply new membership requirements to streamline the panel’s work.

“Governance changes are necessary to enable Paul [Wiedefeld] to make the changes necessary to return Metro to the world-class system it once was,” said Terry D. McAllister, chairman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Wiedefeld said it wasn’t appropriate for him to propose reforming the governance structure above him. But he also expressed concern that such changes — which would require amending the Metro Compact, or governing document — could delay agreement on urgently needed funding.

“If we get into a whole thrashing of some of those issues, I just think it could drag out for years. I don’t think we have years,” Wiedefeld said.

Thursday morning, after having spent the previous 24 hours briefing more than 50 government officials and other regional leaders about his plan, Wiedefeld readily acknowledged the difficulty of his task.

“It’s going to be an extremely heavy lift,” he said at a news conference.

But Wiedefeld said he was optimistic that the region could overcome its differences on taxes, labor relations and governance because so many people see the need to save the transit system.

“I think the agreement, if you step back, is that they all want to try to do something to get this right. So that’s a good place to start,” Wiedefeld said.

Wiedefeld is about to launch meetings with Metro staffers, elected officials and private groups around the region to explain his plan further and try to win support.

Described in a six-page “White Paper” and 27-page PowerPoint presentation, the proposal explains why Metro needs $15.5 billion in investment over the next 10 years — an average increase of nearly 30 percent from its previous plan — to keep the system safe and reliable.

To allay concern that Metro spending is headed out of control, Wiedefeld also proposed to cap the annual growth in jurisdictions’ annual contributions for operations and investments at 3 percent. That’s separate from the new $500 million capital fund and a new $26 million “rainy day” fund Wiedefeld has proposed.

In a related effort to hold down costs, Wiedefeld proposed major concessions by Metro’s unionized workforce. A key part of the plan is to amend a federal arbitration law to strengthen management’s position in contract disputes.

His proposal to outsource operations — a form of privatization — drew particular opposition from unions. As an example, Wiedefeld suggested Metro’s unions might have to compete with private contractors for jobs on the second phase of the Silver Line, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

[Metro isn’t hopeless. Here are 4 realistic reforms the region could agree on. ]

OPEIU Local 2, which represents many of Metro’s IT staff, engineers and contract administrators, doubted the plan would achieve significant savings. It also expressed concern that the quality of work would decline.

“He [Wiedefeld] thinks that contracting is a way to save money,” said Eric Starin, the union’s chief steward at Metro. “There might be rare incidents where that is true, but there are also an awful lot of incidents where it costs more money to contract work out.”

Wiedefeld’s privatization plan mirrors a similar strategy employed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston. In the past year, the MBTA has outsourced warehouse and money-room operations, efforts that are projected to save an estimated $177 million over the next 10 years.

The agency also used threats of privatization to reach a new, money-saving contract deal with one of its biggest unions. Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA chief administrator and acting general manager, said he met with Wiedefeld this year to offer advice on how to employ the same strategies in Washington.

Republican lawmakers in Congress and the Virginia General Assembly — and some Democrats in the region — have said Metro must curb labor costs before they would be willing to consider giving the agency more money.

Wiedefeld needs congressional support to extend the program under which the federal government grants Metro $150 million a year — and the three local jurisdictions match it — for investments.

But his plan got off to a rough start with a key House member, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), the only Republican in the local delegation in the GOP-controlled Congress. She complained Wednesday that she didn’t receive an adequate briefing about Wiedefeld’s plan, saying she heard only about the “huge price tag.”

Wiedefeld tried to patch things up Thursday, saying he already planned to meet with Comstock next week.

“I will work with her very closely to get her more comfortable with at least understanding what we’re trying to do,” Wiedefeld said.

Comstock said Thursday she still lacked enough information to comment about the specifics of Wiedefeld’s plan.
“I have asked for far more details on Metro’s operating and capital costs and the justifications for them than we have received to date,” Comstock said in a statement.

Wiedefeld’s plan also drew a tepid response from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Hogan’s office said it had not seen details of the plan but reiterated the governor’s position that it is up to local leaders in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties to pursue dedicated funding if they choose.

“A statewide tax is a nonstarter,” said Amelia Chasse, a Hogan spokeswoman. “One question our administration does have is why this proposed plan does not call for an increase in federal funding, when approximately 40 percent of Metrorail riders are federal employees.”

Elected officials will be pressing for abundant details about Metro’s spending before supporting taxes or other dedicated funding.“We need to know, for sure, what the cost is for what,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova (D) said. “We need to be assured that labor issues have been addressed. We also need to know that governance issues have been addressed.”

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said such questions would be considered by a panel headed by former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, which is to study Metro and make recommendations in the fall.

Wiedefeld’s plan “gives us a very, very good basis to make a political case along with the review that Secretary LaHood’s doing,” Layne said.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans stressed that there will be political cost for anyone who resists making concessions to make the plan work.

“Nobody’s going to look kindly on any party that says, ‘I’m not compromising,’ ” Evans said. “I think they’re going to find themselves left out in the woods.”

Tags: ATU 689privatizationContracting outworkplace policies
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Rails/Trams By First Group Threatens Health and Safety-Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:57

Privatized UK Rails/Trams By First Group Threatens Health and Safety-Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: First Groupfatiguehealth and safetyprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:43

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK63EgTVwYs
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK63EgTVwYs
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Pages