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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Metro's union on safety progress

By Luke Rosiak

Metro's general manager Richard Sarles has made addressing safety concerns and building a "safety culture" in the ranks of the agency's 10,000 employees a top priority, following scathing criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The then-interim general manager commissioned an employee survey that found that many workers witnessed safety violations and did not report them--some because they feared reprisal, and others because they simply felt management would do nothing to rectify the situation.

But a few months ago, members of its largest workers union said they were unsatisfied. Metro had missed "every opportunity" to have meaningful conversations with rank and file workers, so each employee could learn from workers' mistakes, they said.

From the October/November issue of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 newsletter:

"Since the June 22, 2009 Metrorail accident, WMATA has ignored both the union's requests and the recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), that it develop and publish a comprehensive safety program capable of addresses the safety and health of employees. WMATA has merely made moderate attempts at implementing safety measures to appease the Board of Directors and local media.

The union's chief safety officer also complained about Metro policies that strictly forbid employees from talking with the media about safety problems:

"[T]he Authority has a policy that does not allow employees to speak to the media about safety, fraud, mismanagement or bad management. The Authority's policy needs to be addressed by the union. An employee's federally protected right to speak to the media or any entity investigating safety, an accident, fraud, etc. than [sic] must be respected by the Authority."

By Luke Rosiak  | February 9, 2011; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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