Unionized Washington D.C. bus drivers, many of whom pull in salaries in excess of $100,000, showed up late to work on Thursday in protest of D.C. Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld, causing delays for travelers in the nation’s capital.
The “late out” protest is the latest provocation against Wiedefeld initiated by members of the ATU Local 689 labor union, which represents most of the front-line employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The union contends the transit system’s leader has repeatedly violated collective bargaining agreements for nearly two years.
Bus drivers in D.C. are paid on average nearly $57,000 yearly, which is 93 percent above the national average, according to Indeed. More than 200 D.C. bus drivers pulled down salaries in excess of $100,000 in 2014, and dozens more earned close to $140,000, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in 2015. (RELATED: DC Bus Drivers Are Making Well North Of $100k Annually)
Local 689 spokesman David Stephen told TheDCNF the union launched a petition Wednesday seeking the ouster of Wiedefeld, and added that his removal alone would not be enough to stop workers’ protests.
“These issues that have arisen out of his leadership may or may not go away with his removal. So I would say it’s premature for me to say that would signal the end of this,” Stephen said.
The union’s petition accuses Wiedefeld and his team of “trampling” on its collective bargaining agreement by hiring “inexperienced contractors” and ignoring court orders to negotiate and reinstate employees.
Local 689 President Jackie Jeter sent an explicative-laced email on July 4 in response to Metro Chief Labor Relations Officer Johnny Gilman’s request that she instruct unionized workers to show up to work on time and to cease and desist any further collective action, according to emails obtained by Unsuck DC Metro.
Jeter denied her union had coordinated collective action against Wiedefeld, and accused the Metro of oppressing workers and installing “informants” to spy on a union members-only meeting.
“WMATA executive leadership, and Paul Wiedefeld can get the hell out of here with that bullshit!” Jeter responded. “You have trampled on this Compact and CBA since you took your first WMATA check! It’s hypocritical the destruction that your tenure has caused and it is the reason why employees HATE you!”
“[W]e are tired of your BS treatment so your cease and desist is comical at best! When you start respecting the documents you choose to uphold, so will we!” she continued. “This union will always support members taking actions against bullies and oppressors, chose which title you sit under…”
— Unsuck DC Metro (@unsuckdcmetro) July 12, 2018
Despite Jeter’s email stating the union supported the actions undertaken by its members, the union’s spokesman stood by her claim that the union did not coordinate the protest.
“Our understanding is that some employees chose to elect to come in late this morning,” Stephen said. “So this is them venting their frustration with the way that [Wiedefeld] has continually disrespected the workforce.”
The Metro apologized to customers for the delays caused Thursday morning by workers showing up late to work as part of a “collective labor action.”
Some Metrobus service is experiencing delays due to bus operators reporting late to work as part of a collective labor action by their Union. Management is doing everything possible to continue to minimize delays. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. #wmata
— Metro (@wmata) July 12, 2018
WMATA officials could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
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