Workers with the D.C. Metro rallied Saturday at a local church to blast their superiors and defend themselves from politicians critical of Metro personnel, asking for respect and a steep increase in federal funding for the troubled system.
The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) received national attention Friday after a commuter train derailed in Virginia. The plagued system is often in the national spotlight but workers say many times the blame unfairly falls on front line personnel, when it is the fault of hire ranking officials within the transit agency. The workers argue they rarely have any control over the factors that slam frustrated commuters with delays and closures, reports WUSA9.
The workers, who gathered with union representatives from the ATU Local 689 Saturday evening at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, also demanded greater federal funding from Congress and proposed the idea of a regional Metro tax. (RELATED: DC Metro Almost Suffered A Head-On Collision Over A Lunch Break)
“I tell my supervisors the train is unsafe but the supervisors try to force you to take the train out,” Dion Baker, a train operator, told WUSA9 regarding the derailment. “You know, stuff like this shouldn’t happen.”
Workers called on the federal government to acknowledge partial responsibility for the deterioration of the system. Employees called for dedicated funding or a tax to help ensure the agency has the necessary money needed to keep up with maintenance after SafeTrack repairs finish next year, reports WTOP. (RELATED: Legal Brawl Ensues After DC Metro Mechanic Fired Over Fatal Smoke Incident Reinstated)
“They talk about us in a bad light, and everyone I know in the track department feels that it’s not fair to us,” Marlo Franklin, a Metro worker, told WTOP. “We would like for the politicians and WMATA to appreciate what we’re doing.”
Many who remain critical of WMATA find that hard to believe, as inspectors with the Federal Transit Authority continue to find workers violating various safety protocols. Train operators run red light signals in tunnels and recently a train operator almost caused a head-on tunnel collision after violating multiple rules and procedures. The operator was having an argument with a supervisor over a lunch break and switched off his radio.
FTA inspectors found in July more than 100 safety issues and violations of worker policy throughout the first two rounds of SafeTrack repairs.
Metro Chair Jack Evans’ Office did not get back to The Daily Caller News Foundation for comment before time of publication.
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