If you ever needed to confirm why Metro’s operators appear to have an attitude that Metro’s customers are more of an annoyance than anything else you have but to observe the customer-service tone deafness on display by the operators’ union boss:
Metro train and bus operators deserve some respect. That’s the word from the head of the union that represents those workers.
Since a Metrorail operator was caught on video texting on the job, bus and train operators have had a virtual bullseye on them as the public tries to sniff out bad operator behavior. Another train operator was caught on video recently, apparently sleeping while his train rolled down the tracks. Pictures of bus drivers who seem to be reading books while behind the wheel also have surfaced.
Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union local 689, doesn’t want the situation to get out of hand.
“Being watched 24/7 is a problem. I don’t think any of us would like that. And I ask (riders) to respect the operators and the jobs that they do.”
Apparently Jeter’s forgotten the maxim that respect is earned, not demanded. Considering the actions and, frankly, piss-poor attitude of these union operators I’d say Jeters would be better served cleaning up her own house first before making demands of Metro’s paying customers. The comments section of this WTOP story is boiling with resentment over Jeter’s comments. One commenter identified as “Burt R.” sums the general feeling perfectly:
This is exactly the mentality that makes people despise union employees.
How about when my Smartrip card doesn’t work, I don’t get some glare from the “station manager” when I ask them to check and see if the card is working properly, like I just ruined their afternoon. Maybe then I will start showing these folks some respect.
How about your union realizes the PR implications of operators getting caught being negligent, and then no one being fired? These people should be fired immediately for failing to fulfill their duty as an operator.
How about you tell your employees to shape up, instead of asking riders to cut them some slack. If I am in a car where I can see the operator, you bet I am going to be watching to see what they are up to. I don’t want to be on the train with the guy dozing off, reading a book, or watching a YouTube video on his phone.
What if people weren’t reporting these incompetent employees? How many incompetent station staff have been reported for poor customer service with no changes in staffing?
Would the union rather have another accident than to have to discipline their employees? Does the right of a train operator to not be “watched” outweigh the rights of the few hundred people on the train to get the safe trip they paid a fare for?
Yes, it is. Jeter’s implication that her union people are being watched, personally, around the clock is equally ridiculous. No one’s following the operators home and reporting on them. The only place these people are being observed is when they’re on duty, which is precisely what should be happening. The fact that Jeter appears to be concerned about the level of vigilance on the part of the paying ridership sounds suspiciously like she’s well aware that there’s something she’d rather not get seen. The black eye she’s being given in the public is going to transfer to Metro in general and I believe Metro will live to regret it.