On the heels of its first public town hall meeting, Metro’s union president, Jackie Jeter of Amalgamated Transit Local 689, answered questions from bus and rail riders in an online chat Tuesday morning.
About 70 people attended the gathering at MLK Library in the District Monday night, asking questions of f union leaders, bus drivers, station managers, escalator technicians and others.
The questions ranged from the union’s ongoing court battle with Metro over its contract to whether there are enough restroom facilities available to bus drivers. Some riders also questioned Metro’s safety as Wednesday is the second anniversary of the June 22, 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people and injured dozens.
Jeter said she was pleased with Monday night’s turnout and plans to hold another town hall meeting this summer.
Here are excerpts from Jeter’s online chat with washingtonpost.com on Tuesday:
WEB SITES CRITICAL OF METRO
How do you guys feel about sites whose sole purpose it is to criticize DC Metro, like unsuckdcmetro.com? Do you read these and take things they post into consideration, or do you consider them an all around annoyance?
I consider what they are saying but I think that some of those who comment unfairly characterize the incidents.
Do you see a day when the Metro can operate at a profit, and if so, what will it take to make the Metro operate without subsidies? (Incidentally, I favor subsidies and believe more people should ride an expanded Metro. Yet, I am not certain if it can operate without subsidies, or am I wrong?)
Public transportation should be for the public and we will never be able to afford good transportation without it. Everything must be on the table concerning how we get our money, making it more profitable.
Wouldn’t tax payers be better served and riders receive better service if Metro outsourced all its union jobs? Most of Metro’s union employees are overpaid and just don’t work that hard. it would be cheaper for tax payers if these jobs were outsourced and made non union.
Think about what you are saying. Workers are not good or bad because they belong to the union. Unions have made it possible for all workers to have better working conditions and better benefits. Just the fact that you as a non-union employee enjoy your two days off or your overtime pay or your weekends, is because of the union. I think tax payers have some real issues, and going after union workers is not paramount.
EATING ABOARD TRAINS
A woman was eating on the train. When I mentioned it to a WMATA employee as he passed and asked him to enforce the rules or call a Transit officer he said “You do it.” This attitude of “Not my problem” is endemic to your union employees (and I’m a union person myself). What are you doing to fix it?
I think that two things are true. One: Bad employees are bad whether their union or not. Two: Metro has a history of ignoring the good deeds or it employees and it is not doing enough to strengthen the culture which makes people want to go the extra yard. Plus a strong work ethic is nurtured.
Is the Union willing to accept an across the board pay freeze now to help keep costs steady and do its part to avoid a fare increase? I imagine a pay freeze alone would not keep fares constant but is the Union willing to accept no pay increase to show it shares the responsibility to lower costs?
The amount of what members are paid is negotiated and they have taken the concession during negotiations. When Metro rains in the other identified waste, we’ll talk about it when they choose to negotiate.
Can you please ask your metro drivers to speak more politely to passengers? So many times I hear them bark “don’t block the doors, or I will put this train out of service”. It sounds so vindictive. Something along the lines of “please don’t interfere with the closing of the doors, this damages the mechanism to a point were they may not close properly. If they don’t close properly, we cannot move and will have to off-load the entire train here and bring it to the repair yard. Just imagine being stuck on the platform with 500 angry fellow commuters. Now let’s try this again . . .”
I’ll take that suggestion and pass it on to my members.
What do you say to people who believe transit worker salaries are too high?
Their salaries commensurate with their skills and they provide a valuable service to the public, like police and firemen.
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