WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A day after a Metro employee was shot and killed at the Potomac Avenue station, the union representing workers is blasting WMATA for failing to provide better protection and safety measures.
The WMATA board held an emergency meeting Thursday morning behind closed doors, so it’s unknown what was discussed, other than the agenda was about safety and security matters.
The union representing workers is demanding change.
“I’m concerned. I’m really upset. I’m upset that we’re not doing more in the industry not only for my members and the workers but also for the riders,” said Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa.
Costa wants change after Wednesday’s shooting left 64-year-old mechanic Robert Cunningham dead.
“Brother Cunningham. Four children [were] left behind. Stunned. Horrible,” said Costa.
He was a member of ATU Local 689.
Costa says violence is trending across the industry.
“Every day I see another operator, station starter, dispatcher, mechanic, getting assaulted if not killed,” said Costa.
It’s why Caryn Ernst wants the District to take action.
“We want to have the safe passage program funded immediately so we can get safe passage staff who can also be violence interrupters and credible messengers available at this Metro stop to ensure that kids can get through safely to school,” said Costa.
She says taking Metro is the only real option for her daughter.
“I don’t feel comfortable with my kid taking the metro every day but she has to. That’s what she’s going to have to do to get to school,” said Ernst.
Costa says solutions are needed now.
“Police presence, I believe, they need to have more security in this area, in many of our cities, Chicago, we’re having this problem in New York, we’re having this problem. People are being assaulted,” said Costa.
He’s now asking the federal government to step in and enforce the requirement to form a labor-management safety committee to find solutions.
“Labor is at the table who best knows the job, best has the eyes and ears out there that can help identify hotspots and dangerous spots,” said Costa.
WMATA did not respond to several requests for comment.