Washington, D.C. transit authority moves to privatize bus maintenance services


As transit union continues to ignore its members’ overwhelming vote to strike

Washington, D.C. transit authority moves to privatize bus maintenance services

Nick Barrickman

6 August 2018

In a brazen move, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) officials announced a plan Thursday to privatize maintenance services for its Metrobus line in northern Virginia. The deal, worth $89 million, will give the private transport company TransDev control of WMATA’s soon-to-open bus garage in Lorton, Virginia.

The deal comes amid a heated dispute regarding the privatization of public services between the transit authority and 8,000 Metro workers, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689. Three weeks ago, transit workers delivered an overwhelming “Yes” vote to strike to their union leadership, voting 94 percent in favor of the action after WMATA began contracting private firms to perform services reserved for union members.

Rather than heeding its members’ call for a strike, the ATU sought to back away from the mandate immediately, calling for a “cooling off periodand then entering into a series of closed-door meetings with transit officials. On Friday, the ATU demonstrated its contempt for its rank-and-file, not even bothering to issue an update to its members after the fifth such closed-door meeting concluded.

Last week, the union announced with great fanfare that the transit authority had agreed to walk back its policy of hiring non-union contractors for custodial positions. According to ATU spokesperson David Stephen, the solitary concession was a confirmation that Metro “has recognized its contractual violations.” Stephen reiterated to the Washington Post that the “‘strike threat’ is unchanged” until all…

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