Metro Access operator Karen Reed last night gave new mayor Muriel Bowser and local congregations a glimpse of the grim impact that outsourcing of public services has had on residents of the DC metropolitan area.
At a Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) forum for DC Mayor Bowser, Reed explained the safety concerns for riders and the financial struggle she endures as an employee of a private, for-profit company contracted by WMATA to provide transportation for the area’s most vulnerable citizens.
“It would be a smoother ride for everybody,” she said, “if WMATA and First Transit would stop cutting corners and stop treating me and my fellow workers like disposable people.”
Emphasizing the importance of her job in transporting people with disabilities, Reed warned that “Employee turnover is through the roof, and customer service suffers.”
Paid only $26,000 per year, less than 30% of area median income, Reed and her daughter qualify for food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid. She has had trouble finding a place to live that she can afford and she and her daughter were homeless for three months last year. Nevertheless, Reed was never late, nor did she miss a day of work. Reed and her daughter need public assistance to survive but she says she would rather earn a living wage for the work she does.
“You are going to pay me either way. In my public benefits check – or my paycheck,” she explained. “I enjoy working for a living. Stop insulting me. Pay me in just one check – my pay check!”
Click here for a brief video of Reed's testimony.