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Newly elected transit union officers take the oath: 1974 | by Washington Area Spark
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Newly elected transit union officers take the oath: 1974

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 top officers take the oath of office in January 1974. The union represents employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, often called Metro).

 

From left to right are President George Davis, unknown, and Recording Secretary Robert Delaney.

 

Davis served as president of the union during some of its most turbulent years, 1974-80 when workers went on strike three times, refusing Davis’s orders to return to work.

 

During his tenure he led a work to the rule that halted 500 buses out of 1,600 from leaving the garages over safety and disciplinary issues, negotiated an agreement to cover the start-up Metrorail service, retained the cost-of-living clause in the union contract that was under fierce political attack and put together a ticket that integrated the top ranks of the union.

 

However, he was criticized for being out-of-touch with the membership, failing to fight the beginning of low-wage suburban bus companies or organize new workers.

 

At critical times he failed to enforce the contract, leading to a seven-day wildcat strike in 1978 that essentially doomed his leadership.

 

He was defeated in the 1980 union election by a rank-and-file member, Charles Boswell, who never held previous union office of any kind.

 

Delaney was a long-time executive board member who was elected Recording Secretary. He retired in 1976 and paved the way for James M. Thomas Jr. to win the post, positioning Thomas to run for president in 1983 when he became the first black president of the local union.

 

For a blog post on the turmoil in the D.C. transit union from 1974-80, see washingtonareaspark.com/2020/03/16/george-davis-and-the-t...

 

For more information and related images, see flic.kr/s/aHsmLRWRyd

 

The photographer is unknown. The image is donated by Craig Simpson

 

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Taken in January 1974