THAT WAS NO STRIKE yesterday at Metro - it was a totally unsanctioned and dangerous decision by a minuscule number of power-hungry hotheads to work their will by making the community miserable. Whatever public sympathy Metro's bus drivers had generated from the last "job action" over security conditions began evaporating quickly in the heat of the city's second day of an air-pollution alert. It wasn't even a question of whether the employees' various complaints and demands were fair ones - for this action was neither taken nor approved by the union; in fact, the move was strongly opposed by the leadership that the members have elected to represent them.

So a tiny minority - abetted by the mindless acquiescence of others - succeeded in shutting down the entire subway system and more than enough of the area's bus services. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly stranded and car traffic piled up chaotically, leaving adults, children and animals in boiling temperatures and choking air along the highways. It wasn't a minor inconvenience - it was a serious threat to public health and safety.

There may be many understandable grievances among Metro's employees - having to do with management policies or union leadership or both. But if the majority of dedicated workers expect any degree of public support, they cannot stand by and let every tiny faction in their number involve them in acts posing a serious threat to the welfare of the community. Moreover, the management of Metro - which not incidentally belongs to the public - must not cave in to any demands flung out in this manner. The self-styled leaders of this latest action should be identified and dealt with severely.