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WMATA takes legal action to enforce anti-fatigue policy

Trains pass through the Farragut West Station on the Orange and Blue Lines.
Photo – WMATA/Larry Levine

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) late last week filed suit in U.S. District Court to allow the agency to implement a policy that prevents train and bus operators from working seven consecutive days.

Under the agency's current agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, employees are paid at time-and-a-half for the first day they work on a day off and double time for the second day off, which would mark the seventh consecutive day of work.

However, after a comprehensive fatigue management study in 2013, WMATA created a policy that says no employee works more than six consecutive days. Any employee who works six days in a row also must receive at least 24 hours off duty before returning to work.

To honor the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, the agency pays certain employees not to work on their seventh day to eliminate "any adverse financial impacts to workers," WMATA officials said in a press release. Under this scenario, the next eligible employee gets the work.

But in 2016, the ATU Local 689 filed a grievance and took the issue to arbitration. In a split decision, arbitrators decided that the collective bargaining agreement superseded the fatigue policy, which became unenforceable.

"A strong safety culture means that we need to be able to protect employees and passengers based on Board approved policies that are informed by science and best practices," said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/27/2017