Today’s Washington Post (Metro page B-1) reports on "a blunt assessment" of Washington DC’s Metro transit administration. Retired Metro manager David L. Gunn wrote the report. Among other problems, it finds a "shoot the messenger" phenomenon "that discourages employees from raising safety concerns." The report is particularly sobering in light of last year’s collision that killed nine people. Metro has had other fatal accidents since then.
I know a fix for the "shoot the messenger" phenomenon. Any Metro manager, union official, or journalist could help. One change could assure that safety issues are raised and addressed in the warm glow of pubic attention. Every Metro train operator, bus driver, maintenance worker and manager needs to know that a recent federal law now protects them from retaliation when they raise safety concerns.
Last October, I wrote here about how the Washington Post could report on the National Transit Systems Security Act of 2007 (NTSSA). NTSSA has given every transit system employee the right to put safety first, to bypass the chain of command, and to disobey unsafe or illegal orders. Under NTSSA, every Metro employee has legal protection if they choose to speak to a newspaper about safety concerns. They would be protected if they follow safety rules and run "late" as a result. Victims of retaliation need to know that they have only 180 days to file a complaint (some laws allow only 30 days).
I would be happy to speak to any group of Metro employees about their rights under NTSSA and how to enforce them. Just call me, 202-342-6980, Ext. 112.