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Back to work order from the union and company: 1974 | by Washington Area Spark
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Back to work order from the union and company: 1974

Shortly after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA also known as Metro) took over four privately owned bus companies in addition to the task of building a subway, the contract between Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 and the new public company expired.


The union called a strike on May 2, 1974 after the contract expired, negotiations stalled and Metro had not specifically agreed to arbitration as provided for in the expiring labor contract and the Interstate Compact that created Metro.


Further, Metro was insisting on reducing or eliminjating the cost-of-living clause contained in the union contract and the union contended this was illegal and not subject to arbitration under federal law.


A federal judge disagreed and fined the union $50,000 per day (later reduced to $25,000) until workers returned to work. However, the judge ordered an arbitrator to give “great weight” to the union’s position.


Back-to-work letters from the union and the company were produced back-to-back as a two-sided flyer after workers continued the strike after the judge’s order.


For a PDF of this two-sided 8 ½ x 11 flyer, see


For a blog post on the turmoil in the D.C. transit union from 1974-80, see


For more information and related images, see


Donated by Craig Simpson


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Taken on May 6, 1974