Today Lindsey Williams and I spoke with the Executive Board of Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).Local 689 represents employees of Washington DC's Metro system. Lindsey is the Advocacy Director of the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC). We spoke about the National Transit System Security Act (NTSSA) of 2007, 6 USC §1142.
I have been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. For too long, I have read local media stories about how Metro employees were too afraid of retaliation to raise concerns about safety. This can't be right, I thought. There is a new law designed specifically to protect transit workers from retaliation. It was a law that came out of a concern for the role that safe public transit plays in our national security. Congress passed it as part of enacting the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
You can read the FAQ I prepared on NTSSA, together with my collection of web links, newspaper stories and blog posts. Everyone on the Board signed up for the NWC's Action Alerts. In our discussion, we noticed that NTSSA could be the sole remedy for transit workers who are fired during their probationary period for refusing to drive in unsafe conditions. Also, union grievances can be faster than the Department of Labor process. Still, it was obvious to all of us that workers' advocates need to know about all the tools in the belt to decide which ones might be best for any particular case. We agreed to continue talking about steward training to make sure that all Metro employees learn about their NTSSA rights when they face retaliation. I thank Jackie Jeter, President of Local 689, for the invitation to speak.