At the heart of the story is a private contractor, W&T Travel Services, which holds transportation contracts with the NIH, FDA, and other federal and state agencies. Its nearly forty employees who serve as NIH shuttle drivers are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764 and have been denied a contract or wage increase by W&T owner Darnell Lee since 2012.
When the workers began off-duty leafleting of their passengers to raise awareness of the issue earlier this year, Lee suspended without pay or fired all union shop stewards and bargaining committee members, along with every employee who testified before the National Labor Relations Board.
"The NIH is letting this contractor make runaway profits off of taxpayers while he threatens, interrogates, and abuses the workers who transport NIH employees," said ATU Local 1764 Trustee Sesil Rubain. "It's unconscionable."
Lee was recently featured on CNBC's Blue Collar Millionaires, bragging about his 8,000 square foot house with a gym and theater, a custom-made Super Bowl ring, and a collection of 10,000 designer suits and shirts.
The union recently launched a petition – available at dclabor.org -- and is asking NIH employees and other federal workers to call NIH Director Francis Collins to support the riders.
On today’s local labor calendar, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston will discuss his new book “The Making of Donald Trump” at 1p today at the AFL-CIO.
Also at 1pm, here on WPFW, our guests on "Your Rights At Work" include Philip Fornaci, Executive Director at the DC Employment Justice Center, and two French journalists, Fanny GUINOCHET and Jerome LEPEYTRE, who will discuss similarities and differences between US and French labor law.
For all the latest local labor calendar listings, go to dclabor.org and click on Calendar.
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1819, Allan Pinkerton was born. Pinkerton’s strike-breaking detectives – also known as "Pinks" -- gave us the word "fink."
In 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was founded at a meeting in New York City. A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer.
Today’s labor quote is by A. Philip Randolph
“At the banquet table of nature, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can't take anything, you won't get anything, and if you can't hold anything, you won't keep anything. And you can't take anything without organization.”
A bust of Randolph, with this quote, is in Union Station here in Washington, DC, in front of the Starbucks.