The fact that he was a whistleblower and spoke out at a press conference that day about Metro’s lack of a “safety culture” may not be a coincidence.
Thomas' firing highlights the continuing struggle over who is ultimately responsible for safety on the subway and in the buses of the nation’s capital, despite federal reports and independent studies that reveal Metro managers have a longtime history of putting safety last.
Metro's record of deferred maintenance and resulting accidents -- nine workers and 10 passengers have been killed in the last several years -- led Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents the bulk of Metro’s workers, to commission two independent reports on Metro safety and on Wednesday the union released 23 recommendations for improvements.
Whether Metro will pay attention is another matter.
“The decision-makers are being shielded and protected, while the front-line workers are under fire,” said Jackie Jeter, president of Local 689, and a former bus driver.
It’s not firing for cause, either, according to the union.
When workers complained, or took action to improve safety, they got disciplined, demoted, or, in the case of Trap and six other workers let go on January 4, fired. The reports and interviews of workers by the outside experts back that up.
“The health and safety concerns at WMATA are very well-documented, starting with its own inspector general’s report back in 2010,” said Dr. Robin Gillespie, a national workplace safety expert.
For Thomas' personal perspective on the issue, and the union’s recommendations for changes to improve safety, go to dclabor.org
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1882, the Toronto Trades and Labour Council endorsed the principle of equal pay for equal work between men and women.
In 1916, eight thousand workers went out on strike at Youngstown Sheet & Tube. The following day the strikers’ wives and other family members joined in the protest. Company guards used tear gas bombs and fired into the crowd; three strikers were killed and 25 wounded.
Today’s labor quote is by former World Bank president Barber Conable, Jr
“Women do two-thirds of the world’s work…yet they earn only one-tenth of the world’s income and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. They are among the poorest of the world’s poor.”
By the way, as of 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, that’s a gender wage gap of 20 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.