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Streetcar Staff Fired Over Union Recruitment, Labor Group Says

by Andrew Ramonas — March 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm 1 Comment

Streetcar on H Street NESeveral employees of the District’s beleaguered H Street streetcar program were fired after they tried to recruit workers for a union, according to a labor group.

McDonald Transit Associates and The Midtown Group, which handle employment for the program, dismissed seven streetcar workers who assisted with a union organizing drive for the Amalgamated Transit Union, the labor group said.

Streetcar employees were slated to vote on ATU membership March 10. But the election has been postponed pending the conclusion of a National Labor Relations Board investigation.

Robert Babbitt, president of McDonald Transit Associates, said the allegations by ATU are a “pretty standard ploy” unions use when workers are trying to organize.

“People get hired and fired all the time,” he said.

Ward Howick, senior vice president at The Midtown Group, didn’t have an immediate comment. A representative of the District Department of Transportation also wasn’t immediately available to comment.

ATU International President Larry Hanley said McDonald Transit Associates and The Midtown Group shouldn’t handle employment for the streetcar program. WMATA should take on that responsibility, he said.

“The managers should be fired not the workers who are trying to make an impossible project work,” Hanley said in a statement.

The union’s allegations came amid mounting concerns about the viability of the streetcar program. DDOT head Leif Dormsjo said this month he wouldn’t bring streetcar service to H Street if additional reviews uncover “fatal flaws,” drawing frustration from locals and D.C. groups.

Councilman Charles Allen of Ward 6, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and ANC 6A all are pushing Mayor Muriel Bowser to save the project. In a Hill Now poll on whether to kill the streetcar, 65 percent of respondents said as of this afternoon that they think the District should carry on with the project.

  • Jeff Davenport

    I want the ATU to clarify what exactly makes this project ‘impossible.’

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