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Metro union workers vote on strike authorization.

Metro union workers vote on strike authorization.

ATU Local 689

Metro Union Members Vote to Authorize Potential Strike

Just days before the MLB All-Star Game, members of Metro’s largest union on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, although it wasn’t immediately clear if or when a strike would occur.

Bad (or Perfect) Timing

The specter of a work stoppage would cripple the Washington-area transit system, which is responsible for more than a million trips on Metrorail and Metrobus per day. It would be especially embarrassing as the District hosts the Home Run Derby on Monday night and the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said 94% of members voted in favor of authorizing a strike. During a news conference announcing the results of the vote, Jeter refused to say whether a strike could possibly occur beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Can They Strike?

Strikes are prohibited under the current compact, so a judge or arbitrator could order union members back to work and penalize those who refuse to return.

Jeter has previously said a strike would last three days—a far cry from the last work stoppage four decades ago that lasted more than 40 days.

Bad Blood

Contract negotiations between ATU Local 689 and Metro management broke down in 2016. The case moved to binding arbitration, the results of which had been expected this summer. In recent months, Metro workers staged “late-outs,” in which they reported to work several hours late, to show displeasure with management as arbitration continued. Last week, the union began to circulate a petition calling for the firing of Metro General Manager/CEO Paul Wiedefeld.

Worse Timing

The Red Line was scheduled to undergo major maintenance beginning July 21 and ending on Labor Day, Sept. 3. Meanwhile, the Blue, Orange and Silver Lines were scheduled for major repairs on Aug. 11-26.

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