Transit workers wildcat over Metro takeover: 1973
Transit workers picket in front of a bus garage at 3501 South Glebe Road September 13, 1973 during a wildcat strike over inferior benefits and pay provisions and protesting to keep their union instead of being merged into the larger Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689.
The garage had been acquired by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro) earlier in the year.
The workers’ contract between ATU Local 1131 also expired earlier in the year and Metro refused to negotiate a new agreement taking the position that they would be merged into Local 689 that represented the former D.C. Transit company and former WV&M (Arlington) workers.
Local 1131 historically had inferior pay provisions and benefits compared to Local 689, including an inferior pension.
In the meantime, Metro paid them under their old agreement and refused to extend the better 689 benefits to them.
The strike also protested the merger into Local 689 and the striking workers demanded to keep their own local union, although Local 1131 did not call the strike.
Two Virginia Metrobus garages were affected: the Four Mile Run garage pictured and the former Royal Street garage that was located at Royal and Pendleton Streets in Alexandria, Va.
The strike lasted through September 18th and was settled with the intervention of a federal mediator.
The settlement required Metro to immediately equalize sick leave, vacation and premium pay provisions. The issue of whether Local 1131 or Local 689 would represent the workers was left to arbitration.
The January 10, 1974 decision that Local 1131 “is found to have been merged by accretion into the larger former D.C. Transit-WV&M unit represented by 689” and that Metro “is not obligated to recognize and deal with 1131…”
It would be well into the 1980s before negotiations brought the pension plan up to equality with Local 689’s and ultimately merged into the Local 689 plan.
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Photo by Paul M. Schmick. The image is courtesy of the D.C. Public Library Washington Star Collection © Washington Post.