Metro announced yesterday that they will increase the number of at-will employees from 75 to 253. At-will means "either party can break the relationship with no liability, provided there was no express contract for a definite term governing the employment relationship and that the employer does not belong to a collective bargain."*
Maybe this will be a good step toward greater accountability among "all mid-level supervisors, such as superintendants and front-line supervisors," but it only represents an increase from .75 percent of employees to 2.5 percent. A LOT more accountability needs to in instilled up an down the Metro culture. Metro needs a lot more than tinkering at the margins.
Unfortunately, the union has a very different view of how things should go. In an article in today's Post, union president Jackie Jeter said "There's a lot of discipline . . . punishment instead of trying to find out what the problem is."
This must be the punishment Jeter is talking about.
Also yesterday, new Board chair Peter Benjamin issued "incoming remarks." It had some good points about how Metro needs to focus on customer service, increase safety and better communication.
However, he should have nixed this graph:
We also need to have a better understanding by our customers of Metro’s limitations. We have a 34-year old rail system, which is not like it used to be when it was new. It has old rail cars, track bed, power equipment, and communications. Some of our bus garages are 100 years old and some buses are 15 years old. As the equipment and facilities age they become less reliable, break down more often, and need more maintenance. We will have more service disruptions and delays than when the system was new.Customers will not and should not be understanding of more service disruptions and delays.
Metro began service in 1976; the New York subway in 1904. So by Benjamin's reasoning, it should suck approximately THREE TIMES more than WMATA. It doesn't.
We're glad to see Benjamin's focus on the immediate issues of safety, customer service and communication, but there are big picture issues behind WMATA's poor performance, and those need addressing, too.
Among those are funding, the outdated compact the governs WMATA, labor agreements from a bygone era, and perhaps most importantly, political infighting on the Board itself.
Now is not the time for more excuses. DC area commuters need leadership and vision.
Metro to install rollback protection on some cars (WMATA)
Metro to fix door controls on half of fleet (WMATA)
Woman sues Metro for $2 million (Examiner)