- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

And the beat rolls on toward reforming the D.C. region’s mass transit system.

Metro officials have been under considerable pressure to fix obvious problems with the system, including longstanding rail and bus safety and security issues, labor issues and financial and governance shortcomings.

The benefits of those reforms are beginning to show themselves.

Now comes the latest reset button, which occurred Tuesday after federal Judge George J. Hazel released his rulings in a 2016 U.S. Labor Department lawsuit against the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents more than 8,000 current and past Metro employees.



In short, the Labor Department claimed that the union neglected to adequately notify members of the union’s 2015 elections, allowed members not in good standing to run for office and vote, and offered “alternate, secret” policies for some but not all members to cure their late dues. (Sneaky, for sure.)

The union conceded it did not follow the letter of the rules regarding the elections but that it had no deceptive intent.

At issue were the elections of 40 union officers, including the president, and first and second vice presidents.

Judge Hazel ordered new elections, which could prove to show a legitimate united front behind union President Jackie Jeter, who has held the post since 2007.

Interestingly, in the years leading up to the changes in union leadership, Metro started showing serious cracks in its assets and personnel, particularly via rail accidents.

Those are some of the very problems Metro has been tackling the past two years as Metro employees — who are 9,000 strong in the union — continue to work without a contract.

Metro has even fired workers, and officials are trying to restructure its internal governance structure.

Judge Hazel’s order also includes putting Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta in charge of the union’s election do-over — and that could be a good thing, a bad thing or a mixed bag.

Beware: The heavy lifting remains because Metro already has too many local, state, federal and union demands.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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