Metro union chief knocks management over safety

WASHINGTON — The head of the union representing Metro train operators and bus drivers criticized the agency’s management on Thursday, telling board members that the safety culture needs improvement.

In testimony before the Metro Safety and Security Committee, Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, criticized the agency for missteps at L’Enfant Plaza and said not enough is being done on the front lines to make safety a top priority.

“I wonder where we are going, because by now, one mistake should not cost the life of anyone.  We should be beyond that,” Jeter said.

Metro Deputy General Manager Rob Troup says management is working with ATU 689 to identify and fix problems that train operators and bus drivers spot on the job.

“I think it’s very important for us to listen to the union to understand what their issues are,” says Troup. “Regardless of whether we agree or disagree, we are listening to what the union is saying.  They report a safety issue or a malfunction of equipment, (they want) to be able to report back.  We’ve heard that.  We’re setting up programs to do that.”

Jeter says management’s talk about safety is just that.  She argues that Metro changes make policy handbooks bigger, but when it comes to training on the front line or putting plans into action with the union, Metro drops the ball.

She also talked about numbers released Thursday showing Metro employee injuries were up last winter compared with previous years.

“Metro did a good job making sure the stations were safe for passengers, but they didn’t do a great job on the sidewalks and other places where employees were working,” says Jeter.

New D.C. board member Corbett Price says he supports creating a new subcommittee on safety issues, on which Jeter and the union would have a seat.  Many view Price as a board member who is pro-union.

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