Thursday, December 3, 2009

You're Fired! Just Kidding ;)

*
Back in August, we asked WMATA to provide us with a list of union employees who'd been fired and later rehired (reinstated) in the past five years.

After filing a Public Access to Record Policy (PARP) request, we heard back rather quickly that the "request is burdensome" and that we should narrow it.

We did, immediately, asking for three years' worth of train and bus operators who'd gotten the chop only to have their careers be resurrected.

After a very long wait of nearly three months, we finally got an answer.

From Oct. 30, 2006 to June 15, 2009, 87 Metrobus operators have been terminated only to be reinstated at a later date. This is something the Metro operators' union, ATU 689, does very well.

That Metro fired 87 over that period seems high, but perhaps it's normal. We don't know, but keep in mind that a driver who left his full bus to get some KFC was only suspended, as was the train operator apparently texting at the wheel. Wonder what happened to this guy?

So, it would seem an operator would have to do something pretty bad to get axed, so that WMATA fired and reinstated that many seems like a rather large number.

There were no details about the reasons for the initial terminations, but the vague descriptions included rather serious sounding offenses like "violation of rules," "accident record," "attendance," "non-compliance with employee," "unsatisfactory performance," "disciplinary" and our favorite, "failure to return from leave."

How nice it would be to extend your vacation unannounced and slip right back into your old job?

Five "farebox pullers" got fired and reinstated, too.

Check out the documents here, here and here.

Other items:
TOC walks Metro tracks (Examiner)

*Captain Boomerang appears to indeed be a real comic book character or, at the very least, a cross dressing flight attendant. Who knew?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not really that useful unless you know how many employees Metro let go in total during that period. 87 "seems high" but we really have no idea what their turnover rate is like.

Anonymous said...

Firing Cato seems like it won't do much then. Can we fire the union? Take a vote? Get Congress to... uh.. oh... nevermind. ;)

RmichaelDBorg said...

I think it's pretty damn useful to know how hard it is for WMATA to get rid of bad seeds. No wonder some of the employees act as they do.

Anonymous said...

You should ask for how many people were fired and NOT reinstated.

The union bashing is nonsense. A union contract has two signatures on it - if Metro didn't like the terms, then why did they sign it? Second, having been involved in public sector unions, an employer can ALWAYS fire an employee for cause. ALWAYS ALWASY ALWAYS. If these managers couldn't make it stick in these 87 cases, then either the managers are incompetent or they shouldn't have been fired in the first place.

But to blame the union is like blaming a cat for killing a bird.

Mark Evans said...

@anon 9:50

welcome back from vacation. look, we kept the bus driver seat warm for you.

Anonymous said...

The list also gives no information on why they were reinstated. It could be that WMATA couldn't make the case for firing them stick and the union got them reinstated. It could also be that WMATA needed more operators and would rather hire people with experience, as training from no experience costs them more.

You also have no idea what the terms of their reinstatement were (they may have been on some kind of probation) or why they were terminated in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I give up on Metro. Seriously, I give up.

guylefleur said...

All these pro union comments are interesting in their defensive nature. "making it stick" for example.
does anyone really think wmata is just going around looking for drivers to fire willy nilly? it doesn't compute. they don't even fire a guy for texting while driving a moving train. the upper hand here appears to be the unions.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Anons 10:10 and 11:20. This site is more of a forum for union-bashing. Unions serve a very important purpose in protecting employees who are unjustly or incorrectly disciplined. I'm not sure how the union hearing process works with Metro, but in the private sector, termination arbitrations are conducted by an impartial arbitrator chosen from a list preapproved by both parties. The evidence and arguements are given by both sides and the arbitrator renders a decision. Terminations are extremely hard to overturn, so for terminated employees to be reinstasted, the employer had to really screw up.
Get over it...you should be thanking organized for your cushy middle-class lifestyles. Whether you're in one or not, the things like vacations, sick leave, 40 hour work week and the ability to stand up to a bad boss comes from the work of unions.

Anonymous said...

the union folks must not like this post! they're out in droves!! haha.

Anonymous said...

1120anon
The drivers are trained?

Anonymous said...

@guylefleur I could see WMATA trying to overwork employees, but fire them randomly with no reason? No sense at all.

Dan Franzen said...

Theoretically, these "firings" could have been more like "we'll fire you now with the understanding that we'll hire you back later," i.e., a concession to union demands. Or just common practice, I don't know. Maybe they fired them to look good - it would depend on the nature of the offense.

So further useful info would be the timespan between firing and rehiring.

Anonymous said...

I am not anti-union, but I am anti-unsafe drivers and anti-terrible customer service.

Anonymous said...

im prounion, antiCatoe and anti incompetence.

Anonymous said...

This morning, the Examiner reported Jeter's re-election. I am not anti-union, either. I agree to the rights of the collective. But: with rights come responsibilities -- to the industry the union serves and to the people of the union. It seems the union is protecting incompetence and not protecting its people when warranted.

Anonymous said...

All you pro-union people are a joke. Some goofball actually said we have unions to “thank” for 40 hour work weeks and vacations?? That has nothing to do with “unions”. This country is based on free-enterprise. If I start I run a business, I’ll be damned if I let some stupid third party union dictate how I treat my employees. I guess it’s just a coincidence that the most successful retail organization this country has EVER seen, has NO UNION!!

Anonymous said...

Notice that no rail drivers or station Managers had been fired!!!! at least the bus side of the org is trying....

Anonymous said...

The union bashing is nonsense.
(says a union drone)
A union contract has two signatures on it - if Metro didn't like the terms, then why did they sign it?
(what does Management care, they just pass it on to the taxpayers and riders. Look at GM as a typical "I got mine" management team.)
Second, having been involved in public sector unions, an employer can ALWAYS fire an employee for cause (Yea and the tooth fairy lives).
ALWAYS ALWASY ALWAYS. If these managers couldn't make it stick in these 87 cases, then either the managers are incompetent
(I agree there) or they shouldn't have been fired in the first place (I bet you feel the public school teachers are doing a fine job teaching too.)

But to blame the union is like blaming a cat for killing a bird.(Agreed, what we "payers" of the system need is a dog. That way the cat will not be looking to eat the bird (taxpayers and riders)

"Five "farebox pullers" got fired and reinstated, too."

PS: Anybody know what "farebox pullers" are?
I suspect this means they were skimming the fares. But hey, that's no reason to fire them by the logic of the union drones.

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