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

Current News - 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.

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“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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

China: Factory Workers Producing Ivanka Trump Clothing Are Reportedly Overworked & Underpaid

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Refinery29
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Brewery giant Carlsberg seeks to punish union for defending workers' rights

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: May Day: Unions don't want Zuma to address rally

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Daily Maverick
Categories: Labor News

Global: End Corporate Greed – the World Needs a Pay Rise - ITUC May Day statement

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Fleet Memo for April 22 2017

IBU - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 08:58
.
Categories: Unions

Bangladesh: A Message to Global Brands from a Rana Plaza Survivor

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

Honduras: Fyffes Union Leader Escapes Murder Attempt

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Lethal lies: Unmasking the men behind the global asbestos spy ring

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: New Matilda
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Current News - 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

Canada: On Rana Plaza Anniversary, Transparency Needed from Mark's, Sport Chek

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: USW
Categories: Labor News

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