Smooth ride Friday after rumors of Metro 'sick out'

- A rumored Metro employee sick out didn't come to be Friday, making for a smoother than expected commute for many passengers.  Talk of a potential problem surfaced earlier this week after WMATA said they had received an “unusually high” number of absence requests for Friday.

Metro said earlier this week that they denied the 500 requests they received, and expected to provide full rail and bus service for customers. 

On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the transit agency told FOX 5 DC that fewer than two dozen unscheduled absences were called in this morning, including rail, bus and maintenance employees. That is actually less than the normal number of sick calls they receive each day.

On Wednesday, the union representing the majority of Metro's workers says their members were not staging a sick out for transit agency employees. They said they stood behind employees who were abiding by the absentee policy laid out by the transit agency. The union has criticized Metro’s sick leave policy, which they say requires workers to call out 72 hours in advance to take a sick day.

A major protest was staged by Metro workers at a board meeting on Thursday. Many workers voiced concerns about the hard line approach by Metro's management team, especially during their contract negotiations. The employees dropped protest petitions in front of Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, turned their backs and then walked out of the meeting chanting, 'Who moves this city? We move this city!'

Wiedefeld said a plan was in place in the event of mass sick calls by workers, which included putting some employees and supervisors on standby.

Members of ATU Local 689 held a press conference in Friendship Heights Friday morning to discuss the transit system’s sick leave policy.


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