Friday's derailment that shut down Metrorail’s Orange and Blue Lines dramatically underlined the need for dedicated funding that was the focus of Saturday's previously-planned rally organized by ATU 689 and other Metro workers. "Fix it! Fund it!" was the demand of hundreds of Metro workers and their allies at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on East Capitol Street. "This incident is a stark reminder of the need for dedicated funding for Metro so that the basic needs of maintenance and upkeep of our rail system can be addressed before someone else gets hurt," said Local 689. The rally featured introductions of Metro workers and a description of their work responsibility, each punctuated with call and response "We make it work!" From third shift car cleaners to station managers, electricians and journeyman escalator maintenance and repair, all reported having to "make do with less," including fewer people, less new equipment and inadequate supplies. "Try driving a bus in city traffic yourself and see who laughs," suggested ATU 689 president Jackie Jeter (left) to politicians who joke about Metro workers. "We can fix Metro but we can only fix it together," said WMATA Board Chair Jack Evans. "Workers, riders, and the entire region." Recounting the history of transport work from it's earliest days when private operators worked their horses four-hour shifts but forced 12-hour shifts on their workers, DC Circulator Bus Operator Flynn 'Tiny' Burke urged transit workers to "Organize, unite, and fight!" Read more from ATU 689 here.
- Chris Garlock, with additional reporting by Bruce Wolf; photos courtesy ATU 689 Twitter feed