Silverman Letter to WMATA Regarding Ongoing ATU 689 Strike
December 4, 2019
Paul J. Wiedefeld
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency
600 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20001
As we enter the sixth week of Amalgamated Transit Unit 689’s strike at the Transdev-operatedCinder Bed Road Bus Garage, I am concerned that little is being done to help resolve the conditions that led to the strike.
Many of the workers are not District residents, and the routes affected are not in the District. However, as a vocal advocate of a strong Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee at the Council, I feel that I have a duty to raise my concerns. I have met with some of the workers on strike, and they raise compelling issues, including unsafe working conditions, unfair work schedules, unreasonably high-deductible health benefits, and low wages.
I am concerned that privatizing an essential government service like transit is the wrong path for WMATA. In my experience, privatizing often doesn’t lead to the promised cost savings. I can list for you many examples in the District, the most prominent of which is our outsourced school food program. A recent DC Auditor report found that the District is likely overpaying for the program, and is likely receiving lower quality food at the same time. The report even recommends switching back to providing the food in-house. Therefore, I am skeptical that outsourcing these Metrobus operations to Transdev is in the best long-term interests of WMATA, or its riders. And I am even more concerned that WMATA is considering outsourcing the operation of the new Silver Line expansion.
I strongly encourage you, and WMATA in general, to take a more active role in helping Transdev and ATU 689 reach an agreement that addresses the many concerns the workers have with working at the Cinder Bed Garage. Having met with these workers, I have seen the WMATA emblems on their sleeves. They do the same work as any other WMATA employee I’ve met. I hope you will take steps to ensure all of your workers are paid and treated fairly.
Chair, Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
Council of the District of Columbia