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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com June 14, 2011 at 7:00 am 3,541 52 Comments

Striking ART Drivers Fired — The Examiner’s Liz Essley reports that the Arlington Transit bus drivers who went on strike yesterday have been fired by Forsythe Transportation, the contractor that operates ART buses. The paper also reports that the labor dispute came to a head when Forsythe fired the head of the bus drivers union last week. ART buses are operating on a reduced frequency schedule today, with all routes in service except the 61B route. [Washington Examiner, Arlington Transit]

Airport Uniforms Found in Ballston — Three pairs of airport employee uniforms and a Washington Reagan Airport safety vest have been found in the bushes outside Carpool restaurant in Ballston (4000 Fairfax Drive). The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Arlington police are investigating how the uniforms wound up there. [WJLA]

Arlington Mill Construction Contract Awarded — Construction on the new Arlington Mill Community Center is scheduled to begin in August, after the County Board awarded a $27.6 million construction contract for the project over the weekend. “Redeveloping the old Arlington Mill Community Center site into a mixed-used facility with a new community center, gymnasium, retail space and a parking garage is part of the County’s efforts to foster a vibrant, walkable urban village along Columbia Pike,” the county said in a press release. [Arlington County]

Goodbye, Hollywood Video — A shuttered Hollywood Video store and a small office building along Wilson Boulevard are set for demolition this month. The buildings are being razed to make way for a 191-unit apartment complex, which will include a parking garage and ground-level retail space. [Washington Business Journal]

  • sophia

    Why did I learned about the ART bus strike yesterday while waiting for the 45 at Rosslyn?

    I’d asked TBDCommute on twitter and they didn’t respond (still haven’t).

    Thank goodness, I have some extra funds to take the rail.

  • the story of the discarded airport uniforms is scary! Hope they solve this one quickly.

    • It seems Homeland Security should also be involved in this.

  • BerryBerryCold

    I’ll answer the question for MWAA and APD. The uniforms probably ended up there because someone put them there.

  • CrystalMikey

    End of an era…I remember frequenting that HV and the Taco Heck when I was a young, impressionable airman on Ft. Myer.

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    Glad they were all fired.

    So tell me how unimportant 61B is if it can be “turned off” for two days in a row?

  • Sophia

    To ARLNOW: Please credit me by my twitter name (deafinthecity) if you’re going to use the photo. I send you a pic of the ART Bus drivers striking at Rosslyn Metro. I also got a flyer and I can take a picture of that if you wish me to.

  • doodly

    Okay, so ART drivers do have a union?

    This would mean all that talk about saving money by getting out from under the expenses of Metro’s union workforce was pretty much hooey.

    Also, firing these drivers might be illegal.

    • Stu Pendus

      It would mean that, if ART’s union wage for a driver was the same as WMATA’s.

      Arlington’s 2010 budget spelled out how eliminating the 22B and 24P routes and replacing them with local operators saved about 4% in the Metro subsidy payment. A little over $1 million in savings to the County budget.

      I bet some of that savings is in labor costs, considering ART drivers were striking partially over wages.

      • doodly

        My point is that the wage difference isn’t due to union representation, because ART has a union too.

        • Stu Pendus

          Well, Metro’s union is the specific context here. Not the general concept of “union representation”. Most people are familiar with the drumbeat call that Metro’s union expenses and their intransigence are major contributing factors to the system’s budget problems.

          • doodly

            My point still stands though.

          • Stu Pendus

            If you feel better saying that, fine. I don’t agree. You’ve missed the point, as far as I’m concerned.

          • doodly

            My point was that you can’t blame union representation in general. If you want to blame a particular union, fine. Of course, management signs the contract too.

        • Arlwhenever

          You are absolutely right about this one doodly. The wage difference is about the difference in management, with the most pronounced difference being Chris Zimmerman’s 15 year leadership reign on the WMATA board, which is directly responsible for the safety and fiscal disaster that Metro has become.

  • John Fontain

    “Arlington Transit bus drivers who went on strike yesterday have been fired by Forsythe Transportation”

    Kudos! It’s about time a local transportation entity was willing to stand up to employees who put themselves, rather than customers, first. WMATA, are you listening?

    • John Fontain’s boss

      John Fontain, are you listening? You better not ask for a raise this year, that would be putting yourself first.

      • John Fontain

        They weren’t fired for asking for more money, they were fired for not showing up to work. They put themselves ahead of the customers who were relying on this for tranport that day.

        • doodly

          If they were engaged in a legal work action and the employer had refused to negotiate, then that’s how it works. Bus drivers don’t have the same kind of negotiating power that white collar workers have, that’s why unions, and strikes, exist. I presume you have a nice white collar office job – it’s so easy to sit in your chair and make twice what they do and lecture them about putting customers first, huh?

          • Arlwhenever

            To strike when there is a CBA in force is not a legal work action. If a union signs the contract then represented workers need to show up for work or they are subject to dismissal. Since the reports out there do no mention that workers were striking during contract negotiations we can be about 99 percent sure that this was strike not a lawful work action.

          • doodly

            I’m no expert, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

            The drivers were accusing Forsythe of unfair labor practices according to the photos with them holding “ULP” signs.

            In any event, we don’t know if there’s a CBA, and we can’t assume one way or the other.

    • God forbid these people try to get adequate pay from their employer. The horror.

      • John Fontain

        Please substantiate your assertion that those fired were inadequately paid.

        • Adequate pay, adequate working conditions, etc. Why else strike? Did they all just feel like not coming to work like a high school student would do on “senior skip day”? I don’t think so. Likely the strike was meant to wake up management to listen to the real problems. Instead, management decided to remove the unhappy work force and hope other people will take a while to get unhappy.

          • NOVApologist

            What were the “real problems”?

          • Whatever their beef is and reason for striking. I’d not presume to know. Ask one of the fired workers and I’m sure you’ll get the story.

          • PhilL

            “The drivers went on strike to protest working conditions and sexual harassment from Forsythe Transportation, the contractor that runs the Arlington Transit buses.”

            From the Washington Examiner article today.

          • John Fontain

            I’ll take your non-answer to my question to mean that you made a claim (inadequate pay) for which you had no basis. Next time just be direct and say you don’t have a basis to substantiate it.

          • If you had made a question, I’d have answered it. You made a statement.

          • John Fontain

            How do you substantiate your assertion that those fired were inadequately paid?

            Ok, there is your question mark. Now, let’s hear the answer you’ve promised.

          • I don’t. (As I stated above, but you were too busy worried about your question…uh, statement). I stated I assumed it, and I stated the real story can be had by talking to one of the fired workers.

        • doodly

          Please substantiate your assertion that they were adequately paid.

          The point is that you don’t know any better than anyone else – so don’t go taking sides in a dispute you don’t understand. M’kay?

          • Thank you, Mr. Expert on every topic. I did make an assumption, and stated that above. I also stated to ask one of the fired workers for the real story.. M’kay?

          • Scott

            Its not that hard to click on the link of the actual article in the Washington Examiner–

            “Union spokesman Charles Smith said Forsythe management sexually harassed employees, switched drivers’ schedules unfairly, didn’t pay enough and refused drivers bathroom breaks.

            The strike was ignited when the company sent home union leader and employee Patricia Blowe for wearing a union button on Thursday and fired her the next day, Smith said.”

          • doodly

            OG, I was responding to John Fontain, not you. I agree with you.

          • Sorry. Too much coffee blurring the tree structure here. Making me a bit testy too it seems.

          • doodly

            No worries – I’ve done the same thing!

          • doodly

            Oh, but thanks for noting that I’m an expert on every topic. 😉

          • Arlwhenever

            Since the fired employees were working in accordance to contract terms that were agreed to by the union representing them means either they are adequately paid or were incredibly foolish in securing representation. Either way, it’s not just some boogey man from the sky unilaterally imposing pay.

          • doodly


            Again, we don’t know enough to assume this. We don’t know if there is a current contract, or whether it is being violated. Certainly the contract doesn’t stipulate that management may sexually harass employees, for instance.

          • John Fontain

            It’s funny to hear you tell other people their views on the topic are wrong because nobody hasenough information on what is really going on, but yet you started off posting in this thread that their firing was illegal.

          • doodly

            I didn’t say their firing was illegal. I was very careful to say their firing could be illegal, but I don’t know for sure because I don’t know the details. Read it again.

          • John Fontain

            I never claimed they were adequately paid.

  • Missy

    Great photo!!!

    • NOVApologist

      Are those the striking workers?

  • ART Lover

    Although I support unions generally and would like to know the fired workers’ concerns, I have to agree with firing them. Our country has a process for organizing a union and obtaining recognition. The federal government will supervise an election when procedures are followed.

    Only 23 of 80 drivers participated in the work action. They do not appear to have the support of most drivers and they acted without following proper procedure.

    No public service should be held hostage to a minority decision to strike. As a rider I’d like to know the nature of the dispute. But at the moment the so called union has not even articulated a coherent reason for simply not reporting to work.

    • John Fontain

      “at the moment the so called union has not even articulated a coherent reason for simply not reporting to work.”

      One of their pals wasn’t allowed to wear a button to work. That’s so outrageous it’s worth losing your job over! Those fired employees taught ART a lesson it will never forget.

      • doodly

        A UNION button. In other words, expressing support for the job action, not just some random button. Firing someone for that is usually illegal.

        • ART Lover

          I have to agree. But again, there are legal avenues for redress. It seems that the avenues (including a complaint to the NLRB) should have been tried first instead of jumping to a wildcat strike. People depend on the buses, particularly lower income people trying to get to DHS (common on my bus) and AFAC.

          No totally “good guys” in the entire scene, unfortunately.

  • Bender

    I’m sure that all that heavy construction 50 feet from Four Mile Run is going to do wonders for the stream. Not.

  • John Andre

    This is an outstanding example of the right wingers trying to mess with my Tuesday night dances [I need ART 41 service to get to the Clarendon Ballroom.] by perpetrating and exacerbating this strike!


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