Let’s pretend you’re a bus driver. You get involved in a deadly collision between your bus and a taxi where one of the taxi passengers later dies from injuries. Your bosses believe you ran a red light, causing the accident, and fired you from your job. Sounds reasonable, right?
Or, let’s say you’re still a bus driver, but you decide to take offense at someone dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog and slug him; the costumed canine turns out to be a cop. You’re fired from your job, arrested and found guilty of simple assault.
Think you deserve to get your job back in either case?
Apparently Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 thinks so. Both men won their jobs back after an arbitration hearing between the union and WMATA sided in favor of the union. The McGruff hater is due back behind the wheel of a bus after some “retraining.” The driver involved in the fatal accident is currently sitting at home, awaiting a decision by WMATA on where to place him. Both drivers were awarded their jobs plus full back pay, something the union considers a victory.
The reinstatement of a bus driver who caused a fatal accident (and I’ll note that he had not been cited or charged with anything; Metro determined from their own investigation that the driver ran a red light) is most disturbing. “We’re very concerned,” said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein to the Examiner‘s Kytja Weir. “We feel strongly that termination was the right decision.” WMATA settled out of court with the widow of the victim, after she sued the agency for $100 million.
Union president Jackie Jeter said of the hearings that “[t]he authority does not have authority to do whatever they want to do.”