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The Next Chapter in the DC Streetcar Fiasco

Transit Union says workers illegally fired, Call for a WMATA takeover of Streetcar

Washington, DC – In addition to the many woes and missteps that have led to questions about its viability, DC Streetcar now stands accused of illegally firing a third of employees in retaliation for union organizing says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) who called on WMATA to takeover the beleaguered DC Streetcar.

Joint Streetcar employers RATP Dev. McDonald Transit, and The Midtown Group interfered with their workers’ legal rights through actions that included a mass firing of 7 employees involved in a union organizing drive at the agency.

“Not only have the Streetcar managers failed in almost every aspect of the development of this new system, but they want to muzzle any criticism by their employees whose wages and benefits they seek to suppress,” says ATU International President Larry Hanley. “The managers should be fired not the workers who are trying to make an impossible project work.

“The Streetcar has been misbegotten from the beginning from the former and current mayors’ and DDOT’s refusal to listen to workers, riders, and the public, through the difficulty they have now in establishing safe and reliable service on the shortest route in the city,” Hanley continued. “Our city and the Mayor should not support an outsourcing model that impoverishes workers and continues the shenanigans of wasting taxpayer dollars.” 

The charge is contained in an unfair labor practice complaint submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

A March 10 election that would have given Streetcar employees the opportunity to accept or reject ATU membership has been postponed until the NLRB completes its investigation of the mass firings.

 “Even without the breathtaking incompetence displayed by its management, DC Streetcar robs the city of funding that should go toward the real transportation needs of District residents who rely on buses and Metro each and every day,” Hanley continued.  

ATU supports the DC government’s current re-evaluation of the entire project, and urges it to put the actual needs of area transit users ahead of a “boutique” streetcar project that duplicates better service already in place.

“ATU calls on Mayor Bowser to fire these rogue employers and have WMATA takeover the project and bargain a fair contract so these workers can earn a decent living to provide for their families and make this streetcar work,” Hanley said.