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Metrorail Striker at National Airport 1978 | by Washington Area Spark
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Metrorail Striker at National Airport 1978

Unidentified striking worker of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is shown at National Airport in Virginia July 21, 1978.


The strike began after WMATA (often called Metro) failed to pay a cost of living increase due under the labor agreement.


At a July 18 union meeting, President George Davis of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 ruled a motion to strike out of order and when members became unruly, he adjourned the meeting.


A rogue meeting followed that voted to strike on July 19.


The July 19 "sick-out" fizzled everywhere except at the Bladensburg bus shop. However, management at Metro announced they had fired the mechanics and the Washington Star and Daily News reported it.


Metrobus and Metrorail employees quit work in protest and the illegal strike didn't end for another week after Judge Oberdorfer ordered Metro to put the money in escrow while the dispute was arbitrated.


Eight employees were fired for the strike activities but all who filed grievances were eventually returned to work after lengthy suspensions.


This strike was the 2nd of two wildcat strikes by rank-and-file members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 in 1978.


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


For more information and addition images, see the Washington Area Spark flickr set "DC Metro Wildcat Strikes: 1978:"


For information and photos on the 1974 Metro strike, See set description “Transit Strike 1974:"


Photo by Bernie Boston, courtesy of the DC Public Library, Washington Star Collection©Washington Post. It has been photographed from an original 8 x 10 print. This image was not part of the original Washington Area Spark collection and has been added to give context to the time period.

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Taken on July 21, 1978