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Posted at 8:56 AM ET, 06/ 9/2010

Fired bus drivers returning to Metro

By Mike McPhate

This post has been updated.

metro
Metro and the union are at odds over the decision. (Gerald Martineau/Post)

Two Metro bus drivers who were fired by the transit agency are returning to the job after an arbitration decision in their favor, according to a Washington Examiner report.

One of the drivers collided with a taxi in 2008, killing one of its occupants, 55-year-old Bartlett Tabor. A Metro investigation faulted the driver, Ronald Taylor, for violating several Metro driving procedures.

The other driver was found guilty of assault after a bizarre incident in which he punched a patrol officer who was dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog. Shawn Brim, 39, told a Metrobus supervisor at the time that he did it "to be funny,” a Metro spokeswoman, Candace Smith, told the Washington Post.

An arbitrator decided both men should be returned to work and receive retroactive pay, the Examiner said.

A Metro spokeswoman criticized the decision on Ronald Taylor. "We're very concerned," Lisa Farbstein told the newspaper. "We feel strongly that termination was the right decision."

Farbstein told the Post the men are not yet back on the job, and she does not know how soon they will be.

Read the Washington Examiner report.

By Mike McPhate  | June 9, 2010; 8:56 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Traffic and Transportation  | Tags:  metro  
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The other driver was found guilty of assault after a bizarre incident in which he punched a patrol officer who was dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog. Shawn Brim, 39, told a Metrobus supervisor at the time that he did it "to be funny,” a Metro spokeswoman, Candace Smith, told the Washington Post.
----------------------------------
I guess the arbitrator thought it was "funny" also that someone actually punched McGruff the Crime Fighting dog. LOL!

You have to love METRO union....

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | June 9, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Just makes me glad that I recently bought a little scooter and no longer have to deal with Metro. As far as I am concerned, they can shut the whole thing down... Bulldoze the building, parking lot, fire every single incompetent fool there and after a profuse apology privatize it and let ANYONE else run it. They want more money for thugs and incompetents like this? Metro can pretty much go to he11...

Posted by: randy_boyd | June 9, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Seriously?? How did arbitration result in this fascinating decision?

As a DC citizen and Metro rider, I say, "Hell NO!" I'VE HAD IT with Metro's ridiculously bad management and this INSANE union. How can ANYONE in their right mind think that these two morons deserve their jobs back AND back pay??

I'm just going to walk. Oh wait--I forget. That still makes me a target of Metro's ineptitude.

Posted by: redgrifn | June 9, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

ATU Members. It's time for you to fire Jackie Jeter. If you don't, this union supporter will not oppose efforts to dissolve your labor contract.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 9, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

And no doubt very soon the driver that was fired (and captured on a rider's phone camera) for texting while driving, and subsequently filed a grievance will be reinstated. As a regular Metrobus and Metrorail rider I firmly believe that Metro is broken - there is no real accountability for actions by the union members when criminal activity occurs, much less mere violation of policy. I've experienced a driver falling asleep on my route (at a red traffic light, at least) but didn't bother to report it - why bother? One action I do take, when I bike commute - watching out for the Metro Buses - 'cause it's open season on cyclists, pedestrians, and cars!

Posted by: usmcmarathonman | June 9, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Good thing these morons don't control day care unions. I can see it now:

Child molester back on job - investigators blame child for incident, says child seduced worker.

Giving these two their jobs back has to be one of the best examples of dropping the ball I have ever seen!!

Posted by: JimiP1 | June 9, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this story gives you a real warm and cozy feeling about the safety records of Metro employees, doesn't it?

Thanks to the Examiner for this kind of good local reporting (Post, you need to do better than simply link to Examiner stories.)

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 9, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Given that some of OUR tax money goes to help fund Metro, WE THE TAXPAYERS demand to know the reasoning of the arbitrator in reinstating these individuals.

We're waiting.

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 9, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Insane and unbelievable. It's obvious the union runs the show at Metro. Why is management even paid?

Posted by: jckdoors | June 9, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

come on you all don't see the humor in this. The agencies get the bad rap but these arbitrators and admin judges restore these guys all the time. Did the guys get back pay and benefits too?

When i worked for the City i knew of a case where the guy came in, checked out a vehicle and did personal things for 8 hours and then came back to turn in the vehicle and went home for the day. his supervisor fired him, but he did not follow the proper procedure and the guy was reinstated. now the guy is almost untouchable because any disciplinary action is harrassment.

Posted by: whomp1 | June 9, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Given that some of OUR tax money goes to help fund Metro, WE THE TAXPAYERS demand to know the reasoning of the arbitrator in reinstating these individuals.

We're waiting.

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 9, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

What, you don't think it's funny punching a guy in a dog costume? I think Metro may find you guilty for not laughing.

I could see in that case someone being reinstated (I'm not sure DC actually enforces laws related to physical violence, or even has laws prohibiting it) but reinstated with back pay? That is amazing.

As far as the bus vs. taxi incident, having ridden in countless dilapidated DC cabs driven by drivers who paid off some gov’t worker for their license in some random third world country (where they always used to be nuclear physicists or the second son of a sultan) I would have a hard time believing either side. As much as I fear bus drivers in DC at least I know how much the fare is going to be and that unless I have my gender changed and become a woman or I show up dressed as a crime dog I don’t have to worry about being assaulted. In a taxi I often write goodbye letters to my loved ones knowing that my chances of dying in a DC cab are probably exponentially higher than passing away from old age.

I’m wondering if North Koreans who happen to visit DC talk about how lucky they have it back home to have a functioning system of transportation. Maybe they can provide us with humanitarian aid so we can develop transportation systems that actually function. At least we don’t have all the leaders of our nation living and working in a single city that would probably have the nations worst evacuation response in terms of a potential terrorist attack...

Posted by: Southeasterner | June 9, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The metro union is disgusting.

Metro employees are scraped from the bottom of the barrel of society, its beyond me why they're paid so much.

Posted by: kenk3 | June 9, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm so glad I boycott that mess called Metro. Screw them!

Posted by: FiatBooks | June 9, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

So many of you posters have a lot of hate in you! amazing! If you have that much of an issue with metro (btw, I'm not a fan of their less than friendly drivers either), do like I do and walk or carpool. I bet none of you talk to your fellow man face-to-face as you do with online anonymity.

Posted by: eirecub | June 9, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"An arbitrator decided both men should be returned to work and receive retroactive pay, the Examiner said."


Unbelievable! Metro is out of control! Management, and the board, have no authority to do anything. Employees out on leave with pay for over 10 years (remember that recent article), now this. Infrastructre cannot be fixed or updated because all of the money is going to overinflated salaries, pensions, and paying people to not work! Metro needs to go into receivership, NOW!!!!


Who is this arbitrator, and why do they make the decisions about retroactive pay, or reinstating employment? Metro is doomed, if they can't even fire drivers who commit assault while on the job.

Posted by: 123cartoon | June 9, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, those pricey union dues are worth every single penny.

Posted by: naaqsso2 | June 9, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

ATTENTION all thugged-out convicted felons and welfare baby mama drop-outs!!! Metro wants you!!! They are hiring. They will pay you a six figure salary to do absolutely nothing. You get bonuses and paid vacations if you cuss out passengers, kill them, and even assault McGruff the crime dog. More than one violation of the rules/laws will get you a promotion and a big fat raise.

Posted by: dcisajoke | June 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Good thing these morons don't control day care unions. I can see it now:

Child molester back on job - investigators blame child for incident, says child seduced worker.

Giving these two their jobs back has to be one of the best examples of dropping the ball I have ever seen!!

Posted by: JimiP1 | June 9, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse
***************************************

But yet, Montgomery County Ride-On Transit has allowed the employment of a driver, who was CONVICTED of being a child molester (against another Ride-On drivers then 12 year old daughter) but fired the victims father, for bringing charges against the molester.

It seems convicted child molesters have more rights, than do the victims, or the family of the victims.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | June 9, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"demand to know the reasoning of the arbitrator in reinstating these individuals."

My guess is a trade-off.

I was a union member for many years. I worked in Md, and per Md law had to be a member in order to work where I was working.

2 guys I worked w/ were caught on video pilfering money from a couple supervisors desks and jackets. Not a large amount, mostly loose change.

The guys were fired, and they submitted a grievance w/ the union.

The case went to the arbitration board, and, despite the evidence, the 2 thiefs were reinstated w/ back pay.

Personally, I didn't want to work w/ thiefs, so I asked the business agent how the he11 these guys got their job back.

I was informed that it was a trade off. The union worked a deal w/ the company. The company had another case where an employee had done something deemed worse than petty theft.

In order to make sure the guy who did something worse WAS fired, they agreed to give the thiefs their jobs back.

If Metro uses an arbitration board, my guess is that a trade off occurred. If it was a single arbitrator, he must have been nuts.

Posted by: BEEPEE | June 9, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

its not metro its the DAMN UNION. Jackie Jeter are u crazy? a man died from the accident he was in why in the world should he get his job back? the driver that choose to sop his bus to punch a crime dog he should not get retroactive pay 30 days

Posted by: JeroRobson1 | June 9, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I want to use this fourum to ecxpress my regretts as someone that broke the rules at work and laid about my supuriors for my own gain. I, like the bus drivers, made huge mistakes and I admit to my endiscretions do to my unstable and eratic mental state. I want to appologize to Maggie and Thoma for bring hardship on them when they were just doing there job. There is no marit to the statements I made and I am asshamed at my actions. I might one day have the guts to telh them myself face to face. Especially Mrs. Perez. I am truely sorry!

Posted by: can0foil | June 9, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I want to use this fourum to ecxpress my regretts as someone that broke the rules at work and laid about my supuriors for my own gain. I, like the bus drivers, made huge mistakes and I admit to my endiscretions do to my unstable and eratic mental state. I want to appologize to Maggie and Thoma for bring hardship on them when they were just doing there job. There is no marit to the statements I made and I am asshamed at my actions. I might one day have the guts to telh them myself face to face. Especially Mrs. Perez. I am truely sorry!

Posted by: can0foil | June 9, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget -- it's the WMATA Board that approved the arbitration arrangement (which has resulted in such outrageous results). The gutless Board is unwilling to stand up to union pressure, or to control costs. And the Metro system continues to deteriorate.

It's yet another reason to replace the current WMATA Board, and make the new members accountable to responsible officials (the 2 governors and the mayor of D.C.).

Posted by: jrmil | June 9, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

no wonder some of these employees have a god-like complex!

They can get high, assault, kill with impunity. Couple that with a nice pension and other benefits...

I am truly at a loss for words...

Posted by: joebananas1 | June 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Clear demonstration of what is wrong with Public Sector Unions and why they must go.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 9, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I hope you all have a good union in case you get busted for posting hate speech about Metro while at work.

Posted by: PepperDr | June 9, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

You'd be lucky to find a metro employee who has completed their high school education or speak coherent English.

If anyone is even thinking about working for the metro, you're an absolute loser!

To all the metro workers, you're hated more than you know.

Posted by: kenk3 | June 9, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

It's reassuring to know that killing someone and attacking a cop do not necessarily disqualify someone from driving a city bus. Who are these arbitrators? I thought this was a story from The Onion when I first read it.

Jackie -- would you mind if I ran over one of your family members? It don't mean nothin', right?

Posted by: sheehanjc | June 9, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Keep supporting unions! Full employment for all and accountability for none!

Posted by: bayma1 | June 9, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

It was a good thing that bus driver did not punch a PG cop. He would not have a chance to get his job back.

Posted by: drkly | June 9, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The names and addresses of all metro union representatives should be published so they can be properly harassed.

Posted by: kenk3 | June 9, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

A perfect example of our welfare state. It is believable that one cannot be fired by Metro. We need to get rid of htese unions, they are not for keeping the best workers.

Posted by: mark0004 | June 9, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

a lot of anti-union talk here. we'd be in a world of hurt without unions. the 'free market' would treat all of its employees like crap without some union contract protections.

Posted by: wpost36 | June 9, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

While I am a huge fan of personal responsibility, I think these drivers along with many others have come into direct contact with the nicotine of the cellphone industry. Besides legislation and public awareness, I think the cellphone companies have a responsibility to do more than just run paper campaigns that insure that they don't publicly end up on the wrong side of this issue.

My three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. This driver was probably an upstanding member of our community but they (like many) deluded themselves into thinking the they could multi task while operating a 5,000 pound piece of steel and glass. If I could come up with a simple solution in the form of a smart-phone app built with our family savings, then I think the cell phone companies can do a little more as well. To me its completely unacceptable to wait until big cell gets sued like big tobacco which will take a decade. Meanwhile the crash rate on this issue is 6,000 accidents a year.

Erik Wood
OTTER app

Posted by: ErikWood | June 9, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Unions will be the downfall of this country !!! Actually we're on the way down now....

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | June 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the percentage of Metro employees on Permanent Total or Permanent Partial Disability, you will be shocked.

The quality level of metro employees is truly abysmal.

Posted by: nativedc | June 9, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

First, I would like to say GOD BLESS to all of the individuals on here who have so much HATE in their hearts! My husband works as a bus driver for Metro. He is not an ex-convict or a THUG. Metro is one of the few blue collar jobs that pay their employees well. Well enough to support FAMILIES people. Stop the bitterness folks! These folks are people too! Not everyone is a BAD employee! Do you ever sit to think of all the things an operator has to endure to keep you folks happy! Be thankful that you made it to your destinations safely! And say THANK YOU! It goes a long way. If anything is evil, it's the remarks some people make without knowing the ENTIRE situations at hand! Open your hearts people, because while your judging people, you too will one day be JUDGED!

Posted by: ladams25 | June 9, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

To ladams25
One of the fired drivers was sited by metro for SEVERLAL metro violations that led to the death of an innocent person. Do you understand, he RAN INTO THE VEHICLE, killing one and injuring at least five others....and the Union/Arbitrator thinks this person deserves to be returned to his job? Please, get your head examined.

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | June 9, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Has it occured to you idiots that there is no rule that requires termination of a driver just because he had an accident--even if it was his fault? If that was the rule, then Metro would have a heck of a time keeping their busses staffed with drivers. Accidents happen. Metro fired this guy in a knee jerk response to negative media reaction without regard to the due process that was required in his collective bargaining agreement. That's why he was reinstated. By you all's standards, Capt. Sully of "Miracle on the Hudson" fame would never be able to fly again. Pilots who crash and survive often return to their profession. Same with bus drivers.

Posted by: PepperDr | June 9, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

PepperDr:

I follow what you're saying. I think most people failed to read the full story. I do think Metro did a poor job of stating their case.

With that said, the guy was only on the job for 6 months. There's not a whole lot of driving jobs where you can get in an accident, kill someone, and still keep your job.

Same for the guy punching McGruff. I, actually, felt a little sympathy for the guy. He didn't mean for it to be mean-spirited. But, again, most places don't let you go out and punch an officer and then let you keep your job.

Posted by: BigBubba1 | June 9, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"An arbitrator decided both men should be returned to work and receive retroactive pay,"

No surprise at the Employer of Last Resort.

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 9, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

As I read the posts here I can see a lot of folks can't see past their anger/hatred of Metro to see the facts in the cases mentioned.

In the first case where the bus hit the taxi and people were killed. Did anyone ask why the driver didn't have his drivers licensed revoked and thrown in jail? Maybe it was because the taxi ran a red light.

In the seciond case a Metro driver playfully hit a policeman in a padded costume. The policeman suffered no injury.

As far arbitration goes remember its purpose is to decide if the punishment is in line with the 'crimes' committed.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | June 9, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, this is not a surprise. Metro's Union circles its wagons and places its members far above the riders. Less than two months ago I and other passagers were kicked off the bus when the bus driver said he 'hated his route, did not feel like dealing with traffic, and felt like going home'. When I complained I was told the bus driver had in fact completed his route and I misunderstood the situation. Metro is fundamentally broken as an institution and this is further proof of its sad state of affairs.

Posted by: Verdeball | June 9, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Who hires these idiots who reinstate workers who need to be fired? Your tax dollars at work!

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | June 9, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I have many experiences of all types using Metrobus and Metrorail. I have many, many negative, harmful situations that I have been through and endured.

I have also through the years met some good people and considerate people working for metro.

From these experiences I would also like to say to ladams25 about her judgment call. Whether there are good people employed by metro - this is not the call.

I feel that if she wants the people to empathize more with the employee and personal situations in/of/about metro - that metro itself must empathize with the people who use the service.

To do this Metro must take the initiative to stop the hate and redevelop trust - not the other way around. Metro and its employees must initialize a sincere effort to change for the better. Not the people who use it.

When a perspective is taken of NonViolent Communications:

1) Observations
2) Feelings
3) Needs
4) Requests

The anger displayed in many of these messages are simply requests to have their needs met by metro with safety and integrity.

Metro, to often, has failed to do this, resulting in anger and observations that boarder on judgments from the riders.

So ladams25, don't take the anger of the people out of context. We all need to empathize with the problems we have and give from our hearts, so as to not reciprocate judgment - but to find solutions to these problems.

And we need our leaders from Metro to initiate and direct such an effort with integrity and sincerity for the well being of all involved - passenger and employees.

Tough job, and the volume and sentiment of the responses we see here say it really needs to be done.

Posted by: FRGasper | June 10, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Metro Apologists i.e. ladams25: No. It is not too much to ask that drivers be held to a high standard of safety and service. This is what they're paid to do. Since people seem to be citing personal experience as a basis for public policy, I’ll share mine: I'm a former transit operator (not WMATA) and know what it's like to have the woes of a mismanaged system projected onto an individual. This is because when customers see an individual employee, they treat said employee as a point of contact to the organization. Thus, a metro bus driver's job is two fold. The first, obviously, is to safely operate commercial vehicles. The implicit requirement of a bus driver is that of a pseudo-customer service agent. I don't know whether this is even in a WMATA bus operator's job description, but I challenge any WMATA employee to tell me that this is not a daily reality: to the customer, an individual operator IS metro. Fair or unfair, that's how a lot of people think.

This is not to say that metro bus drivers should go any extra distance to be friendly or anything (though it'd be nice :\). These drivers are outside of this particular discussion...Hey, transit operation is stressful; I reckon 25 years of bus driving along side DC motorists would transform even the most saccharine employee into a grizzled shell of a driver.

Still, striking anyone (outside of self-defense) or using a cell-phone while operating a bus (outside of imminent threat to the safety of either the driver or passengers) is absolutely unacceptable. In addition to being common sense, these are well established tenets of all area transit agencies...not something WMATA implemented yesterday as a trailblazing move. Grow-up and get over it, or find another industry to spelunk in. The incidents that these two metro employees were fired for demonstrate their inability to appropriately represent metro while on the clock. These "folks" aren't just people, they're representatives of the system. When the system reinstates them in spite of their wrong doing, it's an overall fail.

ps To kenk3, others: readjust your expectations of public transit...at least until Steve Jobs buys WMATA out; iPhone, this is not. Find a support group in one of the various disenfranchised outlets that address metro's failure to provide adequate safety and usability (i.e. unsuckdcmetro, hollabackdc) or organize a boycott. Anger exposes your privilege.

Posted by: talkingwall | June 11, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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