AT&T workers on strike!

A strike by 40,000 Communication Workers of America (CWA) members closed AT&T stores across the US.

Union members went on a three-day strike that began on Friday, May 19 to protest AT&T’s lack of respect for its workers.

Despite reporting hefty profits of nearly a $1 billion a month, said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, “AT&T continues to pinch its workers’ basic needs and stand in the way of high-quality service (that) its customers pay good money for.”

Trainor said that AT&T has been outsourcing what were once good-paying jobs to third party contractors who pay low wages and few benefits.

He also complained that AT&T wants to reduce worker health care benefits and is unwilling to give its union workers a pay raise that sufficiently rewards them for their contribution to the company’s success.

Striking workers belong to four different bargaining units that are negotiating four different contracts.

The AT&T Orange Mobility contract covers 21,000 call center and retail workers in 36 states; the AT&T West contract covers 15,000 workers in California and Nevada, the AT&T East contract covers 2000 workers in Connecticut, and the DirecTV contract covers 2000 workers in California and Nevada.

The AT&T West contract expired more than a year ago, and the AT&T Orange Mobility contract expired in February.

DirecTV workers, are negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015.

One of the workers’ main concerns is that their new contracts protect their jobs against outsourcing.

AT&T has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs, or 30 percent of its call center workforce, in the US and shipped those jobs abroad to a network of 38 call centers in eight foreign countries.

According to a recent report by the CWA, contractors operating these call centers pay their workers “pennies on the dollar compared to US wages.”

AT&T is also outsourcing retail store jobs to third party contractors.

“AT&T has moved more than 60 percent of its wireless retail jobs to third-party dealers that create profit for the company but cause major headaches for workers and customers alike,” writes  Carissa Moore, a CWA member in the state of Washington, who audits customer accounts for AT&T.

Workers are losing good paying jobs and customers are getting poor service, continues Moore.

“AT&T’s third-party dealers are misleading and misinforming people of all ages and backgrounds in Seattle and across the country,” writes Moore. “I’ve seen customers get pushed to add products and services they don’t need, under the guise of being free, and receive unexpected charges and activation fees that weren’t disclosed that increase their monthly bills.”

The striking workers say that while the strike may inconvenience some customers in the short run, in the long run customers will benefit if more of the work is brought back in house and done by workers directly accountable to AT&T and their customers.

James Stiffey, an AT&T retail worker in Pittsburg, said that he was on strike because AT&T is disrespecting both its workers and its customers.

“Our strike is about demanding conditions that allow us to provide better service for customers too,” said Stiffey. “We are standing together to win a fair contract that protects customers, families and entire communities—and we’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”

CWA members spent much of the three-day strike picketing AT&T retail stores. Fortune reports that the strike closed AT&T retail stores from Montana, to Chicago, to Bangor, Maine.

“As a father, striking is not an easy decision for me,” said Mark Bautista, an AT&T wireline worker in California. “But to make sure I can give my kids the future they deserve, we must take a stand against any and all attempts to skimp on good jobs and financial security. And our fight for a fair contract is about more than just my co-workers and me—it’s about fighting a system that’s been rigged against us and way too many others for far too long. On the picket lines today, I’ll be chanting ‘No Contract, No Peace,’ until I lose my voice.”

Although the strike ended at 12:01 A.M. Monday morning, Bautista and other CWA members said that if AT&T doesn’t listen to its workers, they’re willing to strike again, and next time, it could be for more than just three days.

Teachers union: Wall Street puts the big squeeze on pension funds

A report by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) says that excessive fees charged by Wall Street fund managers are hurting public pensions funds.

Calling the fees an unfair transfer of wealth from working people to Wall Street, the report recommends that public pension funds renegotiate the fees that fund managers are charging and demand more fee transparency from the managers.

For many years, most public pension funds invested in traditional assets such as bonds and high quality stocks.

But during the last 15 years, pension funds have substantially increased their investments in alternative assets such as private equity funds, hedge funds, real estate, commodities, and derivatives.

The AFT report estimates that 25 percent of public pension investments are now in alternative assets.

Alternative assets have become an attractive investment because they offer higher rates of return.

The problem, according to the AFT report, is that the investment firms managing the alternative asset investments for pension funds charge high and hidden fees that substantially reduce the pension funds’ rate of return on investment.

The report, entitled The Big Squeeze, said Randi Weingarten, AFT’s president, “documents the harm to pension funds and state budgets” done by the oversized and hidden fees of alternative asset fund managers.

One of the oversized fees referred to by Weingarten is a 2 percent fee on managed assets called a performance fee. Fund managers get the fee whether the investment’s performance is good or bad. The other is a 20 percent share of gross profits that fund managers take off the top.

Weingarten said that AFT is working with pension funds to reduce the 2/20 fee structure. Doing so would save billions that could be used to make pension funds stronger.

The Big Squeeze examines 12 large public pension funds that have invested in alternative assets.

Alternative assets have become more popular because the companies that manage them have marketed them as high-return investments.

But the promised higher returns come at a price.

The companies that sell and manage alternative asset investments charge hefty fees for their services.

In addition to the typical 2/20 fee structure, fund managers also charge fees for administration, legal services, and transaction services.

We know that these additional fees mount up over time, but we don’t know by how much because fund managers won’t divulge the amount of the fees. That information, according to managers is proprietary information not for public disclosure.

These hidden fees, which can be substantial, deprive investors of information they need to know.

 

The Big Squeeze recommends that pension funds demand that asset managers fully disclose all their fees and that pension renegotiate the standard 2/20 fee structure.

The report recommends reducing the standard fee structure to 0.9 percent of funds under management and 9 percent of profits.

Had the 0.9/9 fee structure been in place, the 12 pension funds examined in The Big Squeeze would have saved $3.8 billion a year, or $19 billion over five years.

The savings and the return on investment that the savings would have generated would have gone a long way toward securing and fortifying the retirement security for millions of workers.

Some of the pension funds examined in The Big Squeeze are under funded. That is, their assets to liabilities ratio over a 31-year period is below 80 percent.

Right wing critics of defined benefit pensions have jumped on the under funding problem citing it as the main reason that pensions should be eliminated and replaced with less secure retirement savings accounts.

The Big Squeeze argues that reducing alternative asset fees and making them more transparent would return billions to pension funds and put them on a path toward full funding.

Weingarten said that there is evidence to show that cutting excessive fund management fees can help pension funds regain their financial footing.

“By calling out these pernicious practices and working closely with pension trustees and legislative allies, we’ve begun to see fees cut and fee structures for hedge fund and private equity managers exposed,” said Weingarten. “This is a win-win situation—revealing these practices means would-be fees are redirected back into retirement systems to address the so-called under funding of (pensions) and to ensure retirees can get the retirement security they’ve been promised.”

 

Flight attendant union to Wall Street: raises were fair, punishment wasn’t

The leader of the American Airlines flight attendants union hit back at Wall Street for punishing the airline for giving pay raises to its pilots and flight attendants.

“It seems Wall Street is putting pressure on the airline industry to squeeze out more revenue, but they could care less about passengers or front-line workers, ” said Bob Ross, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

Ross made his comments after a CitiGroup analyst named Kevin Crissey  criticized American for giving its pilots and flight attendants pay raises that brought their salaries up to the same level as their counterparts at Delta and United airlines.

In a note to investors, Crissey griped that the pay raises were “frustrating (because) labor is being paid first again (my emphasis). Shareholders get the leftovers.”

Crissey was not alone. Other Wall Street analyst downgraded their assessment of American causing the price of the airline’s stock to plummet.

In rebuttal, Ross wrote an opinion piece that appeared in Aviation Weekly setting the record straight.

First of all, American has been extremely generous to its shareholders.

Ross points out that between 2014 and 2016, American authorized stock buybacks worth $9 billion to investors, and during the same period, the company paid investors $600 million a year in dividends.

Combined, the stock buybacks and the dividends are substantially more than the $1 billion over three years that the employee raises will cost.

Ross goes on to describe the sacrifices that he and his fellow workers made to keep the company operating after the airline industry downturn following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York and Washington DC.

Workers gave American $6 billion worth of wage and benefit concessions during the decade that followed 2001.

Those concessions meant that some of his fellow union members lost their homes, cars, and savings.

Finally Ross criticized Wall Street for its short-term thinking. Ross called the employee raises an investment in frontline staff, which American needed to make to remain competitive.

“Underpaying key front-line employees leads to high turnover and low morale, which is not a recipe for quality service. Treating workers fairly is a better long-term strategy,” said Ross.

While Wall Street was punishing American for being too generous to its employees, it continued to support extravagant pay for CEOs.

According to the New York Times, “in advisory votes that S&P 500 companies held for their shareholders on executive pay last year, they received average support of 91 percent.”

Referring the an AFL-CIO Executive Pay Watch report, the Times goes on to report that in 2016, CEO pay raises averaged 6 percent and that the average CEO pay in 2016 was $13.1 million.

The AFL-CIO Executive Pay Watch report shows that the pay gap between CEO’s and workers continues to grow.

The average pay in 2016 for CEOs was 347 times greater than the average pay for workers,  that’s up from 335 times greater in 2015.

The fact that Wall Street considers pay increases for CEOs to be just the cost of doing business while it sees pay increases for workers as an aberration that must be contained explains why income equality continues to increase.

“Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

Longshore workers support community effort to fight air pollution

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 took a stand to support residents of Vallejo, California opposed to the construction of the Vallejo Marine Terminal and an adjacent cement production facility.

Residents are concerned that the proposed facility will increase air pollution, create more health risks, and lower their quality of life.

The people who will be most affected are those living in South Vallejo, a working class community where the majority of residents are Latino and African American.

At a recent media conference, Local 10 President Edwin Ferris explained why the union is opposing the project.

“ILWU Local 10 supports the citizens of Vallejo in their opposition to the proposed Vallejo Marine Terminal project,” said Ferris. “It would be quite irresponsible to support this proposed project at the expense of the health of the environment and the local community.”

Local 10 was joined at the media conference by local residents and environmental groups that are urging the Vallejo city council to reject the project. The city’s planning commission has already recommended that the project be rejected.

Orcem, an Irish company whose parent company is active in the European market making and selling cement made from ground granulated blast furnace slag, has proposed building the Vallejo project.

The company wants to construct a new marine terminal on the site of an abandoned grain mill, and a cement processing facility next to the terminal.

The terminal would receive ships from Mexico and Asia containing blast furnace slag, a rock-like waste left over from the iron- and steel making process.

The slag would be unloaded at the terminal and directed to the cement processing facility where it would be milled into a fine powder, which would then be turned into what the company calls “green cement.”

Orcem calls its finished product “green cement” because its production leaves a much lower carbon footprint than the production of traditional Portland cement.

The only problem is that the milling process, which turns the slag into a powder used to make cement, emits nitric oxide into the air. When nitric oxide combines with oxygen, it forms nitrogen dioxide.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nitrogen dioxide contributes to air pollution and can cause respiratory problems like asthma and other health problems.

Children and the elderly are especially at risk from the effects of nitrogen dioxide.

 

An Environmental Impact Report by city staff found that the Vallejo terminal project posed other threats to the community.

If the terminal and cement processing facility were to begin operating, 300 trucks a day would travel through the neighborhoods close to the terminal, generating more air pollution, traffic congestion, and noise.

The terminal would also depress property values in neighborhoods near the terminal.

Orcem was hoping that its promise of a green manufacturing plant and the new jobs that it would create would rally local support for the project.

The company estimates that the 15-month long construction project to build the terminal and cement plant would create 240,000 hours of union related construction work, which led the local labor council to support the project.

But the company has been more circumspect in predicting how many permanent jobs would remain after the construction work is done.

The terminal and the cement processing facility, both of which would operate 24 hours and day, seven days a week, would be highly automated; therefore, once construction is over, there is little likelihood of many permanent jobs remaining.

According to Fresh Air Vallejo, the environmental group leading the opposition to the project, there is a marine terminal and cement processing facility similar to the Vallejo project operating in Camden, New Jersey.

Owned and operated by the St. Lawrence Cement Company, it employs only 15 workers.

In return for these 15 jobs, the city of Camden receives 100 tons of air pollutants a year generated by the facility.

“We want something better than a toxic, 24/7 cement factory that will bring in shiploads of industrial waste to Vallejo’s waterfront,” said Peter Brooks with Fresh Air Vallejo.

Victory for Houston teachers in suit to protect their employment rights

US Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith on May 4 handed Houston public school teachers a victory when he allowed a suit against the local school district’s questionable teacher evaluation system to go to trial.

The judge said that the suit by seven teachers and their union, the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT), raises valid concerns about their employment rights.

HFT in 2014 filed the suit to stop the Houston Independent School District from using EVAAS, an automated system managed by a private contractor, to evaluate teacher performance.

The union filed the suit on behalf of seven high performing and award-winning teachers who received bad performance evaluations from EVAAS.

EVAAS is a value-added measure (VAM) software system marketed by its owner SAS as an analytical tool that measures the value that teachers add to their students’ education.

The software supposedly measures value added by using a secretive and proprietary algorithm that compares student standardized test scores over time.

The union’s suit describes EVAAS’ evaluation methodology as “complex and opaque.”

A 2014 study by education experts found that value-added measurement was not an effective way to evaluate teacher performance, but HISD as well as at least 30 states continued to use it.

HISD had sought a summary judgment to have the union’s suit dismissed, but Judge Smith on May 4 ruled against the district and allowed the suit to proceed.

“Houston developed an incomprehensible, unfair, and secret algorithm to evaluate teachers that had no rational meaning,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Judge Smith saw that it was seriously flawed and posed a threat to teachers’ employment rights; he rejected it. This is a huge victory for Houston teachers, their students, and educators’ deeply held contention that VAM is a sham.”

According to Audrey Amrein-Beardsley in her blog Vamboozled, VAM was developed by a statistician with the US Agriculture Department named William Sanders who thought that education achievement and teacher performance could best be evaluated by a statistical model similar to one he used to measure the development of animals.

He sold his VAM rights to SAS, a private company that sells software and data management consulting services to businesses and government agencies.

SAS used VAM to create EVAAS, which it then sold to school districts around the country that were trying to comply with the 2002 No Child Left Behind law that, among other things, encouraged states and school districts to use student standardized test scores to evaluate teacher performance.

At a cost of $500,000 a year, HISD in 2011 contracted with SAS to evaluate teacher performance by using EVAAS.

(Last year, the HISD Board of Education voted not to renew its evaluation contract with SAS.)

Judge Smith noted in his ruling that using a private contractor to evaluate teacher performance waiproblematic because SAS treats EVAAS as a trade secret and won’t divulge how the software evaluates teachers.

The union’s suit alleges that the secretive nature of EVAAS and VAM make it impossible for teachers who receive a poor EVAAS evaluation to challenge the evaluation, thus depriving them of due process.

“Due to a faulty, incomprehensible, and secret formula, good teachers are being labeled failures,” said Weingarten in 2014. “We have enough evidence to make clear that not only has VAM not worked, it has been really destructive and it in no way helps improve teaching and learning.”

At about the same time that the union filed its suit in 2014, Dr. Morgan Polikoff,  assistant professor of education at the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, and Dr. Andrew Porter, dean and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, published a paper questioning the effectiveness of VAM.

Polikoff said that there is little evidence to show that VAM is a reliable method for evaluating teacher performance.

“While value-added measures do provide some useful information, our findings show that they are not picking up things we think of as good teaching,” said Polikoff, whose research was funded by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

Given the extent to which VAM is being used, Polikoff said that his and Porter’s findings were “troubling.”

“Our results suggest that it’s going to be difficult to use (VAM-based) systems to improve teacher performance,” one of the selling points that SAS uses to market EVAAS.

Given the evidence against EVAAS and VAM and Judge Smith’s ruling, Zeph Capo, president of HFT, called on the school district to take immediate steps to right the wrong done by EVAAS.

“With (Judge Smith’s) decision, Houston should wipe clean the record of every teacher who was negatively evaluated,” said Capo. “From here on, teacher evaluation systems should be developed with educators to ensure that they are fair, transparent, and help inform instruction, not be used as a punitive tool.”

Unions condemn Trumpcare; Urge health care for all

When the US House of Representatives on May 4 narrowly passed the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act–also known as Obamacare–unions representing 8.4 million workers issued statements condemning the vote.

Bob Martinez, international president of IAM called the vote, “a blatant attack on working families.”

D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, said that because of the Republican health care proposal, which he called Trumpcare, “millions of hard-working Americans are one step closer to seeing their health care destroyed.”

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, asked rhetorically, “did the Marquis de Sade write (the Republican) health care bill?” She also called for creating a single-payer health care plan that “would provide health care for all.”

Republicans passed their health care plan, which they called the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213.

Despite heavy pressure from party leaders and the White House, 20 Republican lawmakers defected by voting no on the bill.

AHCA, or Trumpcare as Taylor called it, will now be taken up by the Senate.

Like other critics, unions criticized Trumpcare because it cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy by $765 billion at the expense of working people’s health care benefits.

To offset the tax cut, Trumpcare slashes Medicaid funding by $880 billion. As a result, millions of  the low-wage workers, nursing home residents, and people with disabilities will lose their Medicaid benefit.

Unions also joined other AHCA critics in condemning the legislation for allowing states to let insurance companies ignore customer protections required by Obamacare.

“They voted to strip basic health care protections from working families and allow insurance companies to sell health care plans that don’t cover essential care or necessary treatment like chemotherapy,” said Chris Shelton, president of the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

AHCA also would make it possible for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions by charging them more for health insurance.

A pre-existing condition, according to the United Steelworkers statement on AHCA, could be anything from heartburn to heart disease.

In addition, unions blasted the Republican health care plan for making employer-based health insurance more expensive.

One of Obamacare’s features that unions have long opposed is the 40 percent tax on high quality employer-based health insurance. The tax becomes effective in 2018. AHCA delays its implementation but keeps the tax in place.

Keeping the tax will make health care more expensive for 177 million workers, said UNITE HERE’s Taylor.

There is a misconception about the high quality health care plan tax, which is also known as the Cadillac tax. The misconception is that it only applies to a few high-end health insurance plans.

But according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four employer health insurance plans could be affected by the tax.

Unions also criticized the Republican health care plan as a job killer.

Because of the AHCA, “thousands of members of my union and other health care workers will lose their jobs,” said Shelton.

The New York Times reports that the health care industry is one of the leading industries for job growth.

Since 2014, according to the Times, much of the job growth at hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and medical laboratories has been spurred by the expansion of Medicaid.

But cutting Medicaid funding by $880 as proposed in AHCA will not only end the expansion, it will cause a contraction of the benefit. Fewer people will receive medical care, and fewer dollars will be spent at local health care providers.

The contraction will lead to layoffs and other job losses.

Some unions that criticized the passage of AHCA said that protecting Obamacare from the ravages of the Republican plan isn’t enough.

“Congress needs to pass a bill that will move America toward health care for all, not the few,” said a statement on the AHCA by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM).

One piece of legislation that if enacted would guarantee health care for all is the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676) sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan.

On Wednesday, May 10, members of National Nurse United will be in Washington DC to lobby lawmakers to pass HR 676.

“Nurses understand that we are in a health care crisis that is only going to get worse for our families and communities, and so it is imperative that Congress act now to solve the crisis through the implementation of a single-payer Medicare for All system,” said Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United.

Conyers said that he has seen a surge in public support for a single-payer, Medicare for all system

Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and other polling organizations have found that there is majority support for Medicare for All in America today,” said Rep. Conyers in a recent editorial in the Detroit Free Press. “Thanks to this groundswell,  single payer is politically achievable.”

More than 100 members of  the US House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of HR 676.

When nurses arrive at Congress on May 10, they will be urging more lawmakers to sign up as co-sponsors and to commit to voting for Medicare for All.

“Health care is a human right, and the way to make that right a reality for everyone in this country is through an expanded and improved Medicare for All system,” said Ross.

DC transit workers criticize boss for lack of safety culture and more

Angry union members on April 27 turned their backs on and walked out of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board meeting chanting, “Who moves this city? We move this city.”

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 attended the meeting to protest WMATA’s new sick leave policy that requires workers to give three days advanced notice before taking sick leave.

But the sick leave issue is only one of a number of grievances that has raised workers’ ire with WMATA’s management, especially its Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.

Workers are angry about the lack of a safety culture at WMATA, threats to workers’ jobs caused by management’s proposal to outsource more work, proposed legislation intended to tilt the bargaining relationship in favor of management, concessionary contract demands proposed by management, and high fares and operational problems that have caused a dramatic decline in the number public transportation riders in the Washington DC area.

Earlier in the month, Wiedefeld proposed a plan to revive WMATA’s troubled bus and commuter rail service. His plan relies heavily on outsourcing union jobs and cutting workers’ benefits.

“Instead of offering real proposals to improve (Washington DC’s public transportation) system and win riders back, Wiedefeld has, once again, pitted riders against workers in an attempt to balance the agency’s budget on the backs of WMATA’s hard working employees,” reads a statement issued by Local 689 to Wiedefeld’s proposal.

Local 689 offered its own proposal for improving public transportation in a report published in March.

The report proposes new options for funding WMATA that do not include raising fares as Wiedefeld has proposed.

It takes a lot of money to maintain the commuter trains, buses, tracks, and other capital equipment required to keep the nation’s third largest public transportation system running.

But for too long, WMATA  has been underfunded, and without adequate funding, it has been difficult for the transit authority to keep its trains, buses, and rail lines in good working order.

Without well maintained vehicles and infrastructure, reliable public transportation is next to impossible.

To make the Washington area’s public transportation more reliable, Local 689 has proposed a number of ways to increase WMATA’s funding without raising fares.

One of its proposals would be to create WMATA Assessment Districts that would assess and collect fees from properties located near WMATA stations.

Businesses located close to stations have benefited from their location, and an assessment fee would return some of those benefits to WMATA and its riders.

The union proposal also calls for a less complicated fare structure that would allow transfers between rail transportation and buses.

Allowing transfers between buses and rail increased ridership in New York City by 15 percent and could do the same for DC, states the report.

The union report also talks about the need to improve the safety culture at WMATA.

The lack of safety at WMATA has caught the attention of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which oversees safety at WMATA.

Last year, FTA issued what the Washington Post called “a damning . . . report” on the lack of track safety on WMATA’s Metro rail system “that put(s) riders at risk.”

More recently, FTA in a letter to Wiedefeld noted several safety incidents that show that “WMATA has not consistently followed its own (Roadway Worker  Protection)  requirements and that unsafe practices exist that present substantial risk of death or personal injury to roadway workers.”

The letter threaten WMATA with the loss of federal funds unless it takes immediate action to resolve the safety issues.

Local 689 applauded FTA’s directive and and called on WMATA to work with the union in a labor management partnership for safety.

“If WMATA is serious about addressing its safety failures, they will engage the workforce in creating a plan and stop putting its employees and riders in danger,” said the union in its statement about FTA’s letter.

But Wiedefeld has shown little interest in working with workers or their union on safety or other issues.

In fact, he is supporting federal legislation that will weaken the union and allow WMATA to outsource more work to private contractors.

The bill entitled the Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland, requires changes to the collective bargaining agreement between WMATA and Local 689 that would allow WMATA to outsource more work.

Doing so, said the union, would create more safety problems.

“Contract workers lack familiarity with Metro’s particular issues and are prone to performing substandard work,” said the union. “Local 689 members are often called upon to redo work that has been poorly done by private contractors. This is both inefficient and dangerous.”

Rep. Delaney’s proposed legislation comes at a time when negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement between Local 689 and WMATA have broken down.

The old contract expired last summer, but union members continue to work under its terms.

Jackie Jeter, Local 689’s president, told WTOP News that negotiations broke off because WMATA keeps saying “no” to everything the union proposes.