Arlington County Board members Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol joined more than 25 contract groundkeepers in their strike this morning outside of Arlington National Cemetery.
The strike by the members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) began today at 7 a.m. It comes after eight months of delays in reaching a new contract. The walkout is believed to be the first strike by workers at the cemetery, says LiUNA.
“This is about workers and their ability to provide for their families and their ability to live,” said Dorsey. “You really can’t do so if your wages don’t keep up with the cost of living.”
Cristol said she was at the strike to support “dignity and fair practices,” adding that the high cost of housing locally makes it hard to raise a family on the wages the groundskeepers are being paid.
The workers, who are jointly employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc., are looking for sick leave time and a pay raise of 4 percent from their current approximately $13 per hour rate.
“I don’t think our ask is that dramatic at all,” said LiUNA assistant organizing director Keon Shim. “We’ve negotiated on things that are non economic and when it came to economics, the company basically said no to everything that we proposed so far.”
“When you think about the incredibly enormous job and the important job of beautifying our cemetery, making it a sacred place and also making it hospitable for visitors, we shouldn’t take the low road with those employees who make that happen,” said Dorsey.
There will be negotiations tomorrow between the workers and the companies, according to the union. If the company is not willing to sign a new contract for workers, union representatives said, the strike will continue.
Currently, cyclists are allowed to use a specific route through the cemetery, a route that’s mostly used by bike commuters heading to D.C. However, that may soon change.
As reported two weeks ago on the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling blog, the Army is considering new regulations that would ban bicycling through national military cemeteries except for those visiting gravesites or niches. That has cyclists who use the Arlington National route writing to oppose the regulations.
The recent uproar over those playing Pokemon Go at Arlington National Cemetery suggests that among the general public there is still a special reverence for the cemetery’s hallowed grounds. Does that extend to those quietly bicycling through the cemetery?
Photo by Schlickw
With the smartphone game Pokemon Go achieving unprecedented popularity, some of the geographic locations of “PokeStops” — the real-world places where the game spawns new Pokemon for players to catch — are coming into question.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, Arlington National Cemetery has asked visitors to refrain from playing the game, after several people were spotted playing at the cemetery and called out on social media. (Some of the graves themselves are PokeStops.)
That followed reports of people playing at the Holocaust Museum, where officials say they’re asking the game maker to remove the museum as a PokeStop.
In addition to the cemetery, there’s another potentially inappropriate PokeStop in Arlington. As a Twitter user pointed out yesterday evening, a marker at the Pentagon that serves as a memorial to the children who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is a designated PokeStop.
— LucyVanPelt (@LucyAppa) July 12, 2016
The center of the Pentagon is also a Pokemon “gym,” though that seems to raise more questions about Pentagon employees playing the game at work than it raises questions of appropriateness.
No word yet on whether game developer Niantic Labs plans to eventually remove “inappropriate” PokeStops like the Holocaust Museum or the Sept. 11 children’s marker. Such locations in the game were actually originally geotagged by users of another Niantic Labs game called Ingress.
First of all, says Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, don’t walk into traffic while playing the game. Also, don’t try to play the game and drive at the same time.
Beyond that, OEM and the Arlington County Police Department have other practical advice for game players to remain safe:
“Always be aware of your surroundings. Play with other people, there’s safety in numbers. Tell people where you’re going, especially if it is somewhere you’ve never been. Parents should limit places kids can go. Be considerate of where Pokemon are displayed and don’t trespass on private property.”
Even some public property may be off-limits. There have been recent reports of people playing Pokemon at Arlington National Cemetery (see below).
Spokesman Stephen Smith said players are asked to refrain from playing on cemetery grounds.
“In respect for those interred at Arlington National Cemetery, we do request and require the highest level of decorum from our guests and visitors,” Smith told ARLnow.com. “Playing such a game on these hallowed grounds would not be deemed appropriate.”
Saw someone playing Pokemon Go in Arlington cemetery today. Let that sink in…
— Tommy Strine (@coach_strine) July 12, 2016
SMH. People playing Pokémon Go at Arlington National Cemetery
— Lonnie Smalley (@BiggieSmalley) July 12, 2016
Keep it classy, Pokemon trainers. Stay out of the Arlington Nat'l Cemetery too… https://t.co/S9kLkONBJL
— Anna Marie (@annapocalypse) July 12, 2016
— Andrea McCarren (@AndreaMcCarren) July 12, 2016
Photo via @ReadyArlington
Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]
ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]
Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]
Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]
Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]
The second round of closures related to Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan is slated to take effect today, with big impacts to Blue Line service in Arlington.
Maintenance crews will work on portions of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines until July 3, according to a service advisory.
On the Orange Line, trains will not run between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road. Orange and Silver line trains will run every 10 minutes between Vienna/Wiehle-Reston and Eastern Market.
On the Blue Line, trains will not run between between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Trains will, however, run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery each weekday until 10 p.m. Yellow Line trains will run on a Rush+ schedule all day on weekdays to compensate for the loss of Blue Line service.
Metro will provide shuttle service for riders traveling to and from affected stations. Arlington County has also expanded ART 43 service, which runs between Rosslyn and Crystal City, on middays, evenings and weekends until Aug. 20.
Trains may be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour, Metro officials said. Regular riders are encouraged to use commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting.
Video Courtesy WMATA
W-L Soccer Captures State Title — The Washington-Lee boys soccer team defeated First Colonial 3-1 on Saturday to win the school’s first Virginia 6A boys soccer state title. Despite an injury, Maycol Nunez led the team with two goals. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
Ceremony for W-L Grad Killed in WW2 — A special ceremony will be held today at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the memory of Merrill Walter Hoover, a star athlete at Washington-Lee High School who was killed while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. Hoover’s body was never found following a ship collision in which he worked selflessly to save his shipmates. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington RAMMY Winners — Clarendon’s Northside Social and chef Jonah Kim of Yona in Ballston were big winners during last night’s RAMMY awards, picking up “Favorite Gathering Place of the Year” and “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” awards, respectively. The awards program for Washington’s restaurant industry also honored major Ballston restaurant operator Mike Isabella Concepts. [RAMW]
Worker Rescued in Crystal City — On Saturday, a worker whose lift platform became stuck 30 feet in the air in Crystal City was rescued by Arlington County firefighters. [Twitter]
Cousins Tweets W-L Senior’s Yearbook Quote — “Best of luck at VCU this fall!” Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins told Washington-Lee senior Joseph Langley, in a tweet, after Langley used Cousins’ famous “You like that?!” moment as his yearbook quote. [ESPN]
More on Applebee’s Ballston Plans — Applebees is opening in Ballston with a “new, urban-focused design.” Why Ballston? “There are lot of Millennials in the area, and it’s an area that has a lot of office buildings as well as residential,” a company spokesman said, as quoted in a 1,070 word magazine article about the restaurant’s Ballston plans. [Arlington Magazine]
CPRO Names New Executive Director — The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has named its interim executive director, former Rosslyn BID honcho Cecilia Cassidy, as its permanent executive director. CPRO’s previous executive director, Takis Karantonis, resigned in January after five years on the job, and is currently working for County Board candidate Erik Gutshall’s campaign. [CPRO]
One week ago today, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placed an American flag on every grave in Arlington National Cemetery, as part of the annual Memorial Day weekend tradition of “Flags In.”
Those flags have since been removed, but what they stand for — remembering the sacrifices of our military service members — never fades away.
ARLnow.com captured this year’s Flags In in a brief video, above.
Video by Omar DeBrew
Memorial Day in Arlington — It was an active Memorial Day in Arlington. Among the activities: a ceremony was held at the Air Force Memorial; volunteers handed out 30,000 roses to families of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery; President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns; and Arlington’s annual Memorial Day ceremony was held in Clarendon. [WJLA, WJLA, New York Daily News, Twitter]
Quarterdeck Owner Opening Restaurant in D.C. –Patrick Morrogh, who owns the Quarterdeck near Rosslyn, is reportedly opening another crab-centric eatery, “District Anchor,” in the former Rumors space at 1900 M Street NW in D.C. [Borderstan]
Arlington Woman Arrested for Handbag Scheme — Federal authorities have charged Arlington resident Praepitcha Smatsorabudh in a major fraud scheme. The feds say Smatsorabudh would buy luxury handbags online, then return high-quality knockoff handbags to the store while selling the real bag online, netting millions of dollars in the process. Per a news report: “The scheme was so prolific that at one point she was a major department store’s top online customer in the entire world.” [ABC News]
Metro Train’s Brakes Catch Fire — Blue Line service was shut down for more than an hour Saturday while Arlington County firefighters battled a brake fire on a Metro train at Arlington Cemetery station. [WJLA]
Home Prices Dip in Arlington — Real estate firm Long and Foster reports a six percent year-over-year drop in Arlington County median home sale prices for April. The number of units sold, however, rose 5 percent. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
All county offices, courts, libraries, and other facilities will be closed for the holiday. Metered parking will not be enforced.
ART buses will operate on a Sunday schedule as will Metrorail and Metrobus. Metrorail will charge off-peak fares all day and parking will be free at all Metro facilities.
Trash and recycling collection, however, will operate on a regular schedule.
Traffic on I-66 eastbound on Saturday is expected to be severely impacted from 10-11:30 a.m. to allow honor groups of Vietnam veterans to travel to Arlington National Cemetery.
On Sunday the Arlington County Police Department will close off Washington Boulevard between I-395 and the Memorial Bridge from 7 a.m.-4 p.m for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. During this time, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
Following an annual Memorial Day weekend tradition, over 230,000 flags were placed at every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery today.
More than 1,000 soldiers placed flags around the cemetery throughout a four hour timespan. There are over 400,000 total graves in the cemetery. Old Guard soldiers also placed approximately 14,000 flags at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in the District.
The tradition known as “Flags In” has been conducted by the Old guard since 1948. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is the oldest infantry regiment in the U.S. Army and is the official escort to the president.
All flags are removed after Memorial Day.
The workers have faced eight months of delay in seeking a new contract with “modest” pay increases and a paid sick leave option, according to their union, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). The workers are employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc., which have contracts with the cemetery, LiUNA says.
The union issued the following press release this afternoon.
The men and women who care for the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery may strike the cemetery’s grounds-keeping contractor, following nearly eight months of delay in reaching a new contract agreement.
The 45 workers, members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, are seeking three annual pay increases and the introduction of paid sick leave. The workers are jointly employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc.
“Members of our military have risked their lives to defend the rights and freedoms of our Constitution, including the freedom to join together in a union for common interests,” said Larry Doggette, Business Manager of Local 572 and a veteran of the U.S. Marines. “It is disgraceful that these fundamental rights and freedoms would be denied at our nation’s military cemetery during a holiday in honor of those have lost their lives in defense of freedom.”
In May 2015, the workers voted in favor of joining together in the union to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. The workers are seeking a boost from their approximately $13 per hour pay rate. They are also seeking sick leave; currently workers have no paid sick leave.
The union and the companies reached an agreement this year on most non-economic issues, and workers presented their pay and sick leave proposal in October 2015. The employers had promised a response, but repeatedly delayed and cancelled the last negotiating session scheduled for this month.
Under a recent executive order by President Obama, up to seven days of sick leave will be required by federal contractors in 2017. However, rather than enshrining the sick leave in a contract, the employers proposed that sick leave be consistent with the order.
“It may be that they are running out the clock, hoping for new president who might rescind the executive order,” Doggette said. “But workers voted for a union, they want a contract and their rights to one should be respected.” Doggette added, “We believe we could easily reach an agreement if the employers would negotiate.” Doggette said that any strike would likely begin before the Memorial Day holiday, and absent an agreement, continue through it.
LIUNA’s Mid-Atlantic Region includes more than 40,000 workers predominantly in the construction industry in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon
Van Doren, Talento Win Dem Endorsement — Tannia Talento and incumbent Nancy Van Doren convincingly won the Democratic endorsement caucus for School Board last week. Talento and Van Doren were the most-endorsed candidates in the race. They will now move on to the November general election. [InsideNova]
Female WW2 Pilots Gain Burial Rights at ANC — Bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama has granted Women Airforce Service Pilots, who served during World War II, formal burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. Those rights were revoked due to a Dept. of Defense legal finding and policy change last year. [Voice of America]
Motorcades for groups of Vietnam War veterans will result in rolling highway closures and potential traffic tie-ups Memorial Day weekend.
The Arlington County Police Department announced Monday that there will be temporary closures on I-66 eastbound on Saturday, May 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The closures are in place to allow Vietnam War veterans to travel to Arlington National Cemetery.
Other roads to be affected by the motorcades include Route 110 southbound and Washington Blvd near Columbia Pike, according to police.
Also, traffic in and around Crystal City is expected to experience delays between 12:30 p.m and 1:30 p.m due to police escorts for another veterans group through the area.
Memorial Day weekend will also bring traffic disruptions on Friday and Sunday due to the 29th annual Rolling Thunder ride, which is separate from the Saturday veterans event. Starting Sunday morning a Rolling Thunder rally will be held at the Pentagon parking lot. That will be followed by a noon departure across the Memorial Bridge and into D.C., before another gathering near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Residents Supportive of Cemetery Expansion Plan — The military held a meeting yesterday to reveal preliminary plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike. Local residents were generally supportive of the plan and the need to expand the cemetery. [Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — The Sunrise senior living community in Arlington has celebrated the 100th birthday of a resident, Kathleen Hanawalt. Hanawalt celebrated the event with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Hanawalt’s husband died in 1969. [InsideNova]
Endorsements for Gutshall, Talento — Arlington County Board challenger Erik Gutshall has picked up a trio of endorsements from state lawmakers. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rip Sullivan have endorsed Gutshall in his primary challenge against County Board Chair Libby Garvey. Meanwhile, School Board candidate Tannia Talento has received the endorsement of School Board member Reid Goldstein. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]
Sexual Assault Awareness Event at the Pentagon — All branches of the military were represented at a recent event to raise awareness of and combat sexual assault in the military. “Walk-a-Lap for a Survivor” was held in the Pentagon courtyard on April 20. Also participating in the event were members of Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families. [Pentagram]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf