Who Is Mike Golash, and Do You Trust Him to Get You to Work Every Day?

If you expand the Washington Metro system in Northern Virginia, you expand the number of trains that run. If you expand the number of trains, you hire more transit workers. If you hire more workers, you facilitate the growth of the Amalgamated Transit Union, local 689, and entrust the functioning of the Northern Virginia economy to its ultra-leftist president Mike Golash.

Virginia is headed down the path of spending $4 billion (before cost overruns) to extend Washington Metro rail service to Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport. And just last week, the House of Delegates leadership proposed dedicating $50 million a year in support of Metro’s capital investment plan. (See “Looking Ahead to the Next Metro Expansion.”) It would behoove lawmakers to learn more about the man whose hand is on the Metro throttle.

Go to the ATW website and you’ll see that the union is interested in a lot more than simply improving the wages and working conditions of its members. States Golosh on the president’s page:

Workers’ real leverage against the bosses lies in their ability to shut down production and call their coworkers into the streets. The threat of economic hardship to the bosses and social instability in society causes a real fear in the bosses’ heart. Direct action by workers is the motor that drives us forward to a better standard of living and a more just society, not election results.

If that doesn’t give you pause about selling your SUV and riding the Metro to work, check out the August/September edition of the ATU newsletter. One article writes about New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the most inflammatory of terms: “It is no coincidence that it is primarily poor black residents that live in the hardest hit areas; slavery and racist laws made sure that the most vulnerable areas of the city are poor black areas.” (Sounds like CNN!) The union also describes the employment of immigrant “guest workers” as “a new kind of slavery.”

Or, how about the article about The Middle East? “People see these fundamentalist groups [like Hezbollah] as taking a stand against U.S. imperialism in the region. … More and more innocent people are dying in these wars for profit and oil. … This is the nature of imperialist war: continuous wars and more innocent people dying. We must fight back against these growing attacks on workers around the world.”

If the rhetoric of class warfare, institutional racism and imperialism sounds almost communist, well that’s because Galosh is, well, a self-avowed communist. Go to the Progressive Labor Party website, where the home page states, “We fight directly for communism.” Check out the July 21, 2004, edition of “The Challenge” newsletter.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 23 – Progressive Labor Party member Mike Golash has been elected president of the 6,000-member Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU). … Amid an imperialist war in Iraq and the rapid rise of a Homeland Security police state, in the face of racist attacks and police terror, and in the shadow of the White House, this local of mainly black workers told the bosses and union hacks, “I’m with Mike!” … Our job is to turn a mass base for a communist into a mass base for communism.

Working at Metro for 28 years, Mike has consistently distributed CHALLENGE to thousands of workers, built a base for PLP, led class struggle and been involved in all union activities, from wildcat strikes to the softball league. … Mike campaigned for ending the racist multi-tier wage progression, militant struggle against management and for international workers’ unity against imperialism.

Who would you rather trust to get Northern Virginians to their jobs every day — Northern Virginians driving their own cars, or members of a left-wing union led by a communist president? Roads don’t go on strike. Transit unions do.

(Hat tip to Ken Reid and Phil Rodokanakis for forwarding the documentation to this story.)

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24 responses to “Who Is Mike Golash, and Do You Trust Him to Get You to Work Every Day?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Who is Senator Macacawitz insulting today? Indians? Chinese? Handicapped people?

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I am almost certain that Metro Workers are not allowed by law to strike.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 3:53, That may be true, I don’t know. But take a close look at what the CHALLENGE article says: Golash has “been involved in all union activities, from wildcat strikes to the softball league.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    okay.. so what’s the point?

    we have a “lefty” in charge of the METRO Union…. shazaammmm…

    sound the alarms… if THIS revelation doesn’t “prove” than METRO is a boondoogle .. nothing will.


    gee .. at times… VDOT acts like they’re UNIONIZED… 🙂

    you know.. the rules they have to follow when someone brings up comon-sense issues…

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Larry, there’s a big difference between unions that focus on bettering the wages and working conditions of its workers and those who advocate broad-based class warfare, wouldn’t you think?

  6. C. P. Zilliacus Avatar
    C. P. Zilliacus

    Larry Gross wrote:

    > okay.. so what’s the point?

    Larry, the man is devoted to _Stalinist_ ideology.

  7. The Winston and Shirley book that I have often cited here devotes an entire chapter to unions and their relationsip to the transit bureaucracy and politicians.

    It isn’t pretty, but they restrict themselves primarily to showing that the more isolated the bureaucracy is from the politicians, the less accountability and the worse the performance of the system.

    This was done by analyzing the kinds of organizations dividing them into groups, and then treating the costs and performance of the groups statistically.

    I kind of suspect that if Metro has any kind of a major screw up, that your boss is going to expectyou to get to work anyway. While you might sell the SUV, I wouldn’t plan on relying solely on Metro.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Isn’t the Union leader elected from the membership?

    I’m not sure what the remedy would be if someone is elected that others don’t like.

    I’m not supporting this guy nor his beliefs but am pointing out that his personal views are not the Union views.

    It would seem to me that the Union rules are an agreement between the Union and Metro – and that Metro – if they want do – can refuse to sign an agreement as long as this guy is in charge.

    Then if the membership of the Union disagrees… what would be done about it?

    What exactly has the union done that is wrong and is a result of his communist philosophies?

    show me a link between his philosophies and the operation of Metro.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Ray’s got it right.

    Forget the philosophies of the union membership – focus on performance and accountability and let the union figure out what they are about or not.

  10. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Larry said, “Show me a link between his philosophies and the operation of Metro.”

    The fact is, no one outside of Metro management and the union has any idea what impact Golash’s rhetoric might have on union behavior. For all we know, Golash is the very model of a progressive union leader. But his heated class-warfare rhetoric, not to mention his participation in wildcat strikes, suggests that maybe, just maybe, he will bring a more militant approach.

    Before Virginia pumps another $4 billion (before overruns) on Rail to Dulles and another $500 million in other capital investment, and before we make Northern Virginia commuters even more dependent upon the Metro system to get to their jobs, someone needs to conduct some due diligence.

  11. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Due diligence would bring to Metro what Virginia has: a law barring public-sector monopoly bargaining. Such laws give public-sector labor unions a preferred place at the table in the contest for scarce public resources. That is, while every one has a right to free speech and to petition government, no one has the right to be LISTENED to … except government employee unions in monopoly bargaining jurisdictionsm where government entities are required by law to negotiate with union bosses. That’s one reason why Virginia bars it, and every State and government entity should.

  12. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Jim, let me ask you this: Do Maryland and Washington, D.C., have the same restrictions against public-sector monopoly bargaining? Theoretically, could the transit workers legally strike in D.C. and/or Maryland?

  13. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Good questions, Jim. No, they do not. In fact, only Virginia and North Carolina have such bans, though many states have not enacted public-sector monopoly bargaining laws, and leave such matters to individual jurisdictions. As for Metro, my vague recollection is that Virginia’s ban does not apply, as the system operates pursuant to an inter-jurisdictional compact. I do not know if D.C. and/or Maryland ban strikes, but as you are well aware, such bans are window-dressing, at best. New York City bars transit strikes, and we’re all aware — from news in the last few months — how that’s worked out for them.

  14. MarlinGroovy Avatar

    How many unions are led by committed communists? Tell me how many leaders use their union position to advance communist party goals? I think it’s one thing for union leaders to be backing Democrat or Republican or even green party candidates. But, for someone to support agroup that OPENLY supports the overthrow of the government is a bit much and shows how Metro’s union is completely out of touch with reality.

  15. As I recall, Winston and Shirley didn’t focus so much on the union, but on thransit management and it’s relationship to government.

    One fairly pervasive problem they found was that the mebers of the government body used control of the transit system to provide them with a base for patronage. This requires that they get cozy with the union so that the union can deliver the votes that keep the politicians in office and raise the money to build the pyramid under them.

    None of which has anything to do with performance.

    Here, you have politicians involved from multiple jurisdictions which means that the power is split up nad more power goes to the Metro Board and the WMATA, or however that is organized. Winston and Shirley identified such a situation as the worst of the worst and transit systems that spanned multiple jurisdictions had accordingly worse performance figures.

    We cannot blame the union for all of Metro’s problems. Because of the public safety issues the system requires a lot of inspectors, reporting, regulatory compliance, pre-emptive maintenance, advertising, training etc. etc. For private automobiles all of those things are handled by the user (or maybe not handled). Some of these hidden costs are reasons that transit seldom lives up to its potential and claimed efficiency.

    HP per seat moved doesn’t tell the whole story.

  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Purely from a Performance perspective – do we know where Metro stands when compared to other transit in the U.S.

    Is it in the Top 5?

    Is it in the bottom 5?

    How about the specific areas where it has performance issues?

    It would seem to me before we start looking for the reasons behind the problems… we need to know… a bit more about the problems.. and I’ll be honest.. I don’t have much of a clue.

    Is Metro a well-run operation compared to others or is it a real mess?

    Last time I checked .. Metro was moving a LOT of people.. and growing… and needing more cars… that does not sound like a failing system but perhaps I need enlightenment.

  17. There are a lot of ways to measure. I think the last time I rode from Virginia Square to the Pentagon the average speed for the trip was less that ten mph and it cost $2.16 per mile, counting subsidies.

    That’s about thirty percent faster than my sailboat, and about the same price per mile, based on my annual mileage and costs. Sailing has been called the most expensive way in the world to travel third class. Since Metro is faster, I suppose the rating for sailing yachts is still safe.

    I think Metro is about average: the fare box covers something like one third of operating expenses, as I understand it. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  18. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Ray – WMATA states that rail fares recover 61.6% of its operating costs, making Metrorail second only to the New York subway system. Metrobus, on the other hand, recovers only 26.2% of its operating costs from fares, placing it below the national average.

    Today, paratransit accounts for only 6% of WMATA’s operating costs, but this service and its costs are growing rapidly. It is expected to become a full 12% of WMATA’s costs by 2015.

  19. I stand corrected, and my hypothetical Metro trip was only about $1.50 per mile, not counting capital,: cheaper than sailing! So much for renewable energy.

    For an auto driver total ownership and operating costs are roughly three times the operating costs. Because Metro is so capital intensive, I would guess their situation is worse than that, and, they appaerently have deferred some maintenance to keep it out of operating costs.

    During the Dotcom years places like Amazon wee fond of claiming they made a profit against operating costs. Let’s not lose sitght of what is really happening. Shucks, if I don’t count capital, even my farm is profitable!

    To ignore the immense cost of capital that Metro requires and still make only 61% of your remaining expenses can hardly be called a screaming success.

    Obviously there is some value in moving 800,000 people in six or eight hours every day, and I haven’t a clue what that is. For all I know it might be cheaper to build new office buildings where the outlying metro stations are now, and give the office space away for free.

    What I don’t buy is the argument that Metro reduces congestion. Congestion could hardly be much worse thatn it is with Metro, so what would happen if Metro wasn’t there? I suspect that traffic, or some of it would happen someplace else, so that is an outcome that should be weighed against the cost of Metro.

    On the flip side, suppose Metro did reduce congestion. What would happen then? I suspect that more people would drive, which means that Metro suffers from the same induced traffic effect that roads do. Even worse, what this means is that congestion is a REQUIREMENT in order for Metro to work. Congestion is a subsidy to metro.

    If you don’t believe it, in California the amount of auto congestion present was a direct input into predicting the ridership generated from different service levels and station arrangements when BART was being planned.

    But, the cost of congestion will never show up as part of the cost of operating Metro. Finally, Metro depends on roads and parking to provide many of its riders. The proportion of those costs that should be attributable to Metro will laso never show up in calculating Metro costs.

    In spite of how this sounds, I still have a gut feeling that Metro is worthwhile, and maybe even efficient, but I’m sure I don’t know how to demonstrate it financially. And I’m also sure that many of the claims made in its favor are false. I suspect that the real situation is much more complex than we realize, and the net gains may in fact be small.

    Winston and Shirley suggest that the gains for (train service in general, not specifically Metro) may be vanishingly small, and the whole operation is of questionable net benefit value to the public at large.

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    are you on your own side or are you against yourself?
    no racism no sexism or higher wages all sound good

  21. […] how would it work? Not well at all, according to the Virginia-based blog Bacon’s Rebellion: Go to the ATW website and you’ll see that the union is interested in a lot more than simply […]

  22. […] how would it work? Not well at all, according to the Virginia-based blog Bacon’s Rebellion: Go to the ATW website and you’ll see that the union is interested in a lot more than simply […]

  23. […] how would it work? Not well at all, according to the Virginia-based blog Bacon’s Rebellion: Go to the ATW website and you’ll see that the union is interested in a lot more than simply […]

  24. […] And how would it work? Not well at all, according to the Virginia-based blog Bacon’s Rebellion: […]

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