Playing with Fire

Wow, I wouldn’t have expected this from the Washington Post editorial board, but an editorial today lacerated the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 for threatening to conduct an illegal strike.

One might think the union was driven to the edge of such a drastic move, which would be the first such labor action to hit Metro in 40 years, by an assault on employee rights — an unauthorized pay cut, unjustified firings or blatant disregard for worker safety.

To the contrary.

The “offense” by Metro management that so incensed the union’s leadership that it might incapacitate the region — and risk the wrath of federal courts, which almost certainly would rule a strike illegal — involves shifting a few dozen janitors from one workplace to another and replacing them with contractors. …

The union, whose leaders stoke grievances by tossing hyperbolic grenades at management, is playing with fire. Even as an arbitration panel prepares to rule on long-standing contractual disputes involving wages, pensions and other benefits, the union has encouraged two work actions this month, including a late arrival by some 500 workers last week that played havoc with schedules and inconvenienced thousands of riders.

As the editorial  observes, any annual increase beyond 3 percent in Metro’s operating subsidy from its jurisdictional stakeholders will automatically trigger massive cuts from Virginia and Maryland to operating and capital expenses amounting to more than $200 million this year.

Bacon’s bottom line: Metro management deserves the full support of Virginia taxpayers and elected officials for its dogged efforts to boost productivity and squeeze costs out of the mass transit system. Management must not bend. And if the union strikes, it must not yield.

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6 responses to “Playing with Fire”

  1. CrazyJD Avatar

    Sounds like Janus v. AFSCME is having an impact. Looks like the union is struggling to maintain relevance.

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner


    1. In what respect? I can think of several.

      1. …for Mayor?

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    It’s a zen thing. Just Bezos….

    He sure ain’t Katherine Graham, but in fairness the Post long ago might have taken the same position. A Metro strike will cripple the region. Maybe Bezos didn’t (and doesn’t) meddle in daily editorial decisions, but his company put public transit front and center in its HQ2 priorities, and global oligarchs are not known for sympathy with unions getting pesky (anything unionized at Amazon? I honestly don’t know.)

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