On Monday October 23rd, more than 215 faith leaders and workers with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 and Local 1764 filled the sanctuary of Luther Place Memorial Church in downtown DC. WIN leaders and transit workers addressed Councilmember Cheh, Chair of the Transportation Committee, and Councilmember Evans, who is also a WMATA Board Chair. Both Councilmembers made public commitments to intervene to raise the wages and healthcare of the privatized DC Streetcar and DC Circulator bus workers to be on par with WMATA workers, the regional transportation authority. In the past, both councilmembers were influential in getting raises and improved healthcare in the 2015 Circulator bus contract. Specifically, they agreed to investigate and raise issues of privatization in council hearings including the upcoming confirmation hearings for a new Director of the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT). See more pictures of the action.
As a follow up, on October 31st, 30 WIN leaders and ATU workers marched into the DC Streetcar barn demanding to speak with the General Manager of the private company that operates the DC Streetcar. Leaders delivered demands, including that the company give operators, cleaners and mechanics healthcare, fair wages and retirement benefits befitting public employees.
DC Streetcar operators make among the lowest wages of any streetcar operators in the country. The employer provided “health insurance” is horrible. It is “fixed payment indemnity insurance” that for instance only covers $300 maximum per year for doctors visits, or $200/ day for a hospital stay. This leaves low paid DC Streetcar operators, cleaners and mechanics - who are public servants - paying medical bills out of pocket or going without health care. Check out a VIDEO of part of the action.