- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2018

Metro’s largest labor union is demanding the resignation of General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, accusing him of lying to the public about not providing a special train for attendees of Sunday’s white nationalist rally in the District.

Thursday’s protest by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 came one day after an arbitration panel ordered Metro to award employees $82 million in wage increases within two years.

About 50 union members gathered Thursday at Metro Center Station, where union President Jackie Jeter said Mr. Wiedefeld “never told the employees they would have to choose between their jobs and carrying terrorists” to the “Unite the Right 2” rally.

No acts of terrorism, threats or injuries were reported during the rally. Police arrested one counterprotester on charges of assaulting someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

The union’s renewed call for Mr. Wiedefeld’s ouster comes amid protracted contract negotiations between the transit agency and union leaders, who have clashed several times with the general manager during his two-year tenure.

On Sunday, police officers separated the 30 or so white nationalists into two subway cars and surrounded them, allowing only a few reporters to share the ride with them from the Vienna Metro Station to Foggy Bottom. At each stop, the officers stood at the open doors to prevent some non-rally attendees from boarding. At Foggy Bottom, a law enforcer gave the rally-goers instructions on how to leave the train and go up the escalator.

On the Friday before the rally, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans said the transit agency would not provide a “special train for the private use of any group,” after Ms. Jeter had told reporters that Metro was considering such a move for the white supremacists.

“They didn’t even call us and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” Ms. Jeter said Thursday, adding that Metro managers typically communicate with the union when a large event requires “extraordinary service,” per the labor contract.

Neither Metro nor Mr. Evans responded to calls for comment by press time.

“I’ve never been ashamed to be a resident of the District of Columbia,” said Raymond Jackson, Local 689’s second vice president. “This is the first time in my life that I can say I’m actually ashamed.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 is Metro’s largest union, representing about 8,000 of Metro’s 12,000 employees.

Early this month, the union was angered when Metro awarded an $89 million contract to a private company to manage its new bus maintenance facility in Lorton, Virginia, rejecting a union bid in the process. Metro said it outsourced the facility to cut costs as part of an effort to maximize the dedicated funding it is receiving from the jurisdictions it serves.

Late last month, Metro agreed to raise wages for office employees and stop outsourcing some janitorial jobs to private contractors after talks with its two biggest labor unions. Earlier in July, Local 689 had threatened an illegal strike to coincide with the District’s hosting of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.

Mr. Wiedefeld has made safety a priority at Metro, reducing service hours, increasing maintenance and firing workers.

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