Teamsters Local 639 Wins Massive Settlement for WMATA Workers

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Special Police Officers (SPO’s) at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are celebrating their arbitration victory, which resulted in an arbitration backpay award exceeding $540,000.

Back in early 2016, Teamsters Local 639 became aware of WMATA’s plan to construct a new facility in Lorton, Virginia called Cider Bed Road. Local 639 made formal inquiries regarding the use and staffing at the new location, but WMATA never responded. The Cinder Bed Road Bus Division was nearly complete by October, 2017. Access control work normally performed by Local 639 SPOs was already staffed by a contractor called BTI Security. Additionally, there were rumors and admissions from WMATA management about plans to subcontract WMATA Headquarters, the Jackson Graham Building, beginning January 1, 2018.

 Christine Hayes Leads Fight for Justice At WMATA

Steward Christine Hayes filed a grievance in October 2017 on behalf of “all Local 639 SPOs affected,” citing violation of a clause in their collective bargaining agreement – Article 13-Contracting Out. This grievance disputed the current subcontracting violation at Cinder Bed Road Bus Division and the intent of WMATA to subcontract members’ work at Jackson Graham Building (JGB), the headquarters of METRO. The 2017 Winter Post Assignment Pick confirmed the deletion and unilateral transfer of 17 daily posts at JGB to BTI Security, displacing 17 SPOs. WMATA denied any contract violation and the subcontracting of jobs continued through June 2019.

 On April 26, 2019, an arbitrator ruled that WMATA did, in part, violate Article 13. The arbitrator ruled that the JGB posts were absolutely the work of Local 639 SPOs and those posts were unilaterally transferred from the bargaining unit, as this work was historically and normally performed by Local 639 SPOs. Unfortunately, the Arbitrator found that while Cinder Bed Road work was also normally performed by Local 639 SPOs, there was no contractual violation as no Local 639 SPO suffered layoff, transfer or demotion from this subcontracting.

The arbitrator instructed the parties to attempt a negotiated settlement to resolve any economic harm to our members. After an extended period of time, and following WMATA’s failure to cooperate, the grievance was returned to the arbitrator for settlement of any economic loss due to the JGB subcontracting.  WMATA claimed there was no real economic loss to Local 639 SPOs. Based upon information supplied by the Union, and WMATA’s limited data, the arbitrator would craft the final determination of a monetary award, if any.

 On June 10, 2021, the arbitrator ruled in Local 639’s favor, awarding $540,172.63 to 95 WMATA members impacted by the subcontracting. An eligible SPO will receive one, two or three shares of the settlement based on each share’s value of $1,964.26. Most members will receive a payment of $5,892.78.

“This was a very tough battle, and I want to thank all SPOs who stood together throughout this lengthy ordeal,” Local 639 Business Agent Roland Davis said. “I want to especially thank Steward Christine Hayes who fought the good fight for our members from the beginning. Thanks to her efforts and ‘never say die’ spirit, she persevered and won justice for our SPOs.”

While WMATA complied with the arbitrator’s demand to return all JGB posts beginning with the June 2019 pick, after all Local 639 SPOs had made their selections, subcontractor BTI was allowed to hold posts not selected by Local 639. This resulted in yet another contract dispute.

On June 9, 2019 Steward Hayes filed another grievance citing violation of Article 18-Overtime for WMATA using BTI Security at “dedicated posts” and giving them overtime posts not picked by Local 639. The union’s position is that all posts on any pick are the work of Local 639 SPOs and overtime opportunities should be made available to Local 639 SPOs prior to using BTI. The grievance is pending since it is still in arbitration.