Transit Workers Speak Out for Urgent Measures to Stem COVID19 Spread

On Tuesday, April 7, at 11:30am, public transit workers at King County/Metro will hold a virtual news conference calling for urgent measures needed to better shield transit workers and riders from COVID 19. The news conference will be via  Zoom. OWLS will livestream the news conference on its facebook page at

Transit workers will announce delivery of an Open Letter to King County Government, signed by more than 50 King County Metro transit workers. Supported by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), bus, rail, and streetcar operators, mechanics, supervisors and custodians will tell their stories to underscore the urgency of their demands. It will begin with a remembrance of fallen bus drivers Scott Ryan and Jason Hargrove, both of whom died from COVID19 after expressing concern about a lack of safety measures on public transit.

The Open Letter includes calls for more transparent reporting of COVID19 cases to front line workers, reduced hours and hazard pay, full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training for bus cleaners, custodians, operators and others whose jobs require frequent exposure to the coronavirus, and daily changing of bus filters.

to King County Council, King County Executive Dow Constantine,
Metro General Manager Rob Gannon, and Metro Ombudsman

We, the undersigned transit workers at King County Metro, and members of Amalgamated Transit Union 587, call on King County government to immediately implement the following emergency measures to help contain the spread of coronavirus on our public transit system.

  • Full transparency and disclosure of coronavirus cases in the workplace, throughout the system; Rescind the policy, stated in a March 23, 2020 General Manager’s Bulletin, that “unless the employee was symptomatic in the workplace, we are not providing notifications to immediate coworkers.” Equally unacceptable in the same bulletin is Metro’s stated policy that “we will not be announcing or addressing every new illness or positive case in the workplace.” This violates the most basic worker protections, and puts not only transit workers at unnecessary risk, but also the riders we are transporting.
  • On a daily basis, clean, sanitize and change the filters of every bus that goes into service. Provide full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safe practices training for all workers involved in cleaning buses. Because this virus is communicated primarily through respiratory droplets, clean air filter systems are fundamental to curbing the spread of COVID19. As well, to further protect riders and drivers, provide PPE to all transit operators for assisting riders with disabilities, when social distancing rules are not practicable. Guarantee access to handwashing stations and break times to use the stations.
  • Institute hazard pay in the form of 40 hours pay for 30 hours work for all transit workers who are serving in harm’s way. Better distribution of work and less time on the job means less exposure, and less of the stress that can undermine workers’ immune systems. Provide full wages for all high-risk workers who are forced to stay at home and/or are caring for dependents, until it is safe to return to work.

Going into this crisis, King County Metro has failed to live up to its Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan. Inequity, discrimination, and injustice have been allowed to thrive, while management remains immovable and indifferent, and even retaliates against employees who raise problems or concerns. This culture impairs safety under normal circumstances, and now has created a highly toxic work environment that jeopardizes the lives of workers and the riding public.

It is critical now, more than ever, that Metro management turns this around, listen to its front line workers, and step up and provide the basic elements of a safe environment for workers and riders. We are all in this together. We won’t be able to flatten the curve unless everyone does their part.

Linda Averill, Streetcar Supervisor, Shop Steward;  Cheryl Jones, East Base (EB) Part-time Transit Operator (PTTO); Mohammad Bazargan, North Base (NB) Full-time Transit Operator (FTTO), James Pratt, Component Supply Center (CSC) Mechanic; Todd Jader, CSC; Adam Arriaga, CSC Mechanic; Doug Frechin, NB PTTO, Shop Steward; Tim Wong, Equipment Service Worker (ESW) CSC; Julian Marquez, CSC Mechanic; Brian Cabera, CSC Mechanic; Lenneth Richard; Robert Bonina, Link Light Rail Operator (LLR), ATU 587 Executive Board Officer; Issiac Dickens, Streetcar Track Maintainer, shop steward; Stan Straker, Atlantic Base (AB) Mechanic, Shop Steward, Safety Committee member; Hassan Osman, NB FTTO, shop steward; Jose Rosado, South Base (SB) FTTO, shop steward, Tyrone Dumas, Streetcar Operator; Francis Lebel, Bellevue Base (BB); Karen Berry, TO, Lisa Randle, TO; Daryoush Hakki, Link Light Rail Supervisor; Brian St. Pierre, TO; Patricia Keels-Venable; Dionna Anderson, TO; David Elleby, TO; Thomas Nary Hayes,TO; Brenda Schwald, Streetcar Operator, shop steward; Juanita Baker, BB FTTO; Josey Woods, NB TO; Betty Park, SB TO; Nick Ryan, Ryerson Base (RB) TO; Arwin Apolonia, NB TO; Kathy McMahon; Aries Dial; JoAnn Oligario, CB FTTO; Rodolfo Franco, Streetcar Operator; Fredrick Coats, First-line Supervisor; Mary Montgomery, CB FTTO; Vlash Naidu, CB FTTO; Heidi Barack, AB FTTO; Michael Fox CB FTTO; Emily Paine, AB PTTO; Albert Galange, CB FTTO; Kahurangi Pere, Atlantic Base Safety Team, PTTO; Mary Buada RB FTTO; Stephanie Jacobs, CB; Mike Cannon, CB FTTO; Ed Duncan, NB FTTO; Tanisha Labossiere; Juan G. Hood III, Facilities  Custodian Shop Steward. 

#       #       #


Transit Workers Organizing & Labor Solidarity to beat Coronavirus

OWLS Meeting – via Web or Phone
Tuesday, March 24, 7pm   

Transit Workers Fight for Equity & Social Justice                               
Rank-and-file activists of ATU 587, the union of County transit workers, initiate a discussion about the toxic and discriminatory environment at Metro/KC. One transit base is nicknamed “the plantation” for its practices. How does this climate hurt worker morale, sabotage solidarity, and hinder safe working conditions & public health.

How can Labor Address the Pandemic & Protect Workers
Labor unions have been raising new demands daily to address the impact of workers suddenly terminated and those still working while facing increased Coronavirus infection risk. What common demands and actions can we unite around and join forces to defend workers against the double whammy of the health and economic crisis sweeping the globe.

To join the OWLS ZOOM online meeting
By Computer or Smartphone click link below.
Meeting ID: 999 716 531

By Phone –dial +1 253 215 8782 US Meeting ID: 999 716 531

Time: Mar 24, 2020 6:00 PM Social Hour
7:00pm meeting

Hundreds rally to protect safety, privacy of public employees

WSLC legislative conference, public employees urge passage of HB 1888

Reprinted from The StandOLYMPIA (Feb. 7, 2020) — Hundreds of delegates representing unions across the state gathered in Olympia on Thursday to learn about the status of legislation affecting working families and to rally on the State Capitol steps in support of a priority bill to protect the safety and privacy of Washington’s public employees.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO hosted its 2020 Legislative Lobbying Conference where President Larry Brown, Secretary Treasurer April Sims, and labor lobbyists updated delegates on some key bills’ status.

WSLC President Larry Brown addresses the 2020 Legislative Lobbying Conference.

(Click to enlarge.)

Later Thursday morning, conference delegates joined public employees at a rally on the State Capitol steps in support of HB 1888, which would update the Public Records Act to exempt public employees’ birth dates from disclosure. Rally speakers said HB 1888 is necessary to protect public employees and their families from identity theft, stalkers, and others who may want to target them at home.

“In 2020, if someone has your name and birth date, they can easily get your home address and other private information,” Sims (pictured above) said at the rally. “Other states have acknowledged their duty to protect public employees’ birth dates. Oregon and California, for example, include public employees’ birth dates among the information exempted from public disclosure. It’s time for Washington to protect its public employees’ safety and privacy as well, by passing HB 1888.”

Rally participants and WSLC conference attendees then fanned out across the Capitol to meet with their state legislators and urge passage of HB 1888 and other priority bills.

“Freedom” Foundation vs. Privacy Rights

OWLS Meeting
Tuesday, February 25, 7pm

Are you a union member? The ultraright Freedom Foundation is demanding the birth dates and other personal information from all public employees in the state retirement system. The Foundation has a history of using this information to call, email, door knock, and harass workers into “opting out” of union membership.

Learn what you can do to defend privacy rights and the right to a collective voice on the job. Plus discuss plans on how organized labor can push back against the attacks around this turnover of information.

Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6,
2800 First Avenueprivacy 2

Join Unions, the Washington State Labor Council, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity, and others in rallying for the privacy rights of public-sector workers. Stand up and speak out against the Freedom Foundation from using the Public Records Act to gain access to the names, birth dates, work emails and locations of all workers in the public retirement system.

Thursday, February 6, 10 AM at the steps of the Capitol

Protect Privacy Rights for Public Workers: Urge the State Legislature to Pass HB 1888 NOW!

House Bill 1888 would update the state’s outdated public disclosure law so that groups
like the Freedom Foundation wouldn’t have access to public employees’ birth dates.
Demand immediate passage of this legislation — and strengthening the bill to include NO disclosure of public employee information. Public oversight of government starts at the top, not through gutting privacy rights of workers and putting them at risk of
management harassment, right-wing attacks, identity theft, stalking, and scams.

Call the WA. State Legislature Hotline at 1-800-562-600

Protect Your Rights on the Job: Grievance Filing 101

OWLS Meeting – Tuesday, January 28, 7pm

Contract language, past practice, state and local law – OWLS covers the basics of what can go into an effective grievance. This tutorial is for shop floor activists and stewards alike. Learn to prepare for a hearing, navigate the grievance maze, organize support, and avoid traps that can block your path to victory.

Also featured is a report on labor battles, including the push to protect the privacy rights of public employees against the Freedom Foundation.

The meeting is at the Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6
2800 First Avenue

January 5: Rally Against the Far Right in Seattle

Dear labor and community activists,
Your voice is needed to outnumber the “Three Percenters”, political cousins of the ultra-right Freedom Foundation who plan to parade at Seattle City Hall on Sunday, January 5th. OWLS has endorsed and is helping to build a massive counter-protest. Please help spread the word and participate with union gear. Let’s show these bigots that workers are united on the other side!
Community Solidarity Rally Against the Far Right:
Sunday, January 5, 11am – 3pm
Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue
“Three Percenters,” are an ultra-right para-military group that scapegoats Muslims, Jewish people, immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, leftists, unionists and the homeless. They are trying to hide their bigotry by calling their rally “Unite Against Hate.” In truth, “3 percenters” have a long history of collaborating with white supremacist and misogynistic organizations. In 2017 they provided security for the racist rally in Charlottesville, where a civil rights activist was murdered. Locally they march with violent rightwing groups like “Patriot Prayer” and the “Proud Boys.” In June they showed up with guns at the Renton Library to harass children attending Drag Queen Story Hour. Together we can stop these bigots! See you at Seattle City Hall!

For more info or to endorse, email or call CLAF at 206-792-5836 or
Use the link below to share word about the rally.

Sponsored by Community & Labor Against Fascism
Endorsed by: ANSWER Coalition; Freedom Socialist Party; Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Radical Women; Salem AntiFascist Ethos (SAFE); Seattle Revolutionary Socialists; Sex Workers Outreach Project-Seattle; Sparkle Brigade; Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304; Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488; Kevin Allen, President Coalition of Black Trade Unionists-Puget Sound Chapter*; Juan José Bocanegra, Director All in for Washington*; Denise Krownbell, PROTEC17 member and Co-chair Seattle Silence Breakers*
* For identification only

Trump’s War on Labor: What Does it Mean for Workers?

OWLS Meeting – Tuesday, November, 26 – 7pm

In September, corporate lawyer Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia, became the new US Labor Secretary. What are his politics and what’s up his sleeve? In another arena, the National Labor Relations Board has several new appointees and is issuing decisions that are detrimental to workers’ rights. OWLS looks at some recent NLRB rulings, and explores how changes at the federal level are creating a hostile terrain that calls for a more militant mindset from organized labor.

Come early and bring a dish for potluck.

Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6, 2800 First Avenue

Movie Nite: Labor Wars of the Northwest

Tuesday, October 22, 7pm 

Puget Sound labor history is rich with lessons for activists of today, as revealed by this compelling documentary. Focusing on the early 1900s, it tells how workers picketed, struck, and bled to prevail against union-hating bosses, deadly conditions, and poverty wages. Their struggles culminated in the Seattle General Strike of 1919, where labor ran the city for six days.   

Come early to the OWLS Meeting and bring a dish for potluck. Join discussion after the movie on what workers can learn from history to advance labor’s cause today. 

Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6, 2800 First Avenue

Picket the Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

This year MLK Labor is sponsoring a protest of the Freedom Foundation’s annual gala fundraiser in downtown Bellevue.  Bankrolled by billionaires and wealthy families, the Freedom Foundation is pouring millions of dollars into its campaign to convince workers to “opt-out” of paying union dues. Their goal, to bankrupt the labor movement, is part of a larger agenda that includes gutting wage and anti-discrimination laws, worker and environmental protections, taxes on the wealthy, and more. OWLS will be at the picket to “welcome” donors of this reactionary group.  See you there!

Saturday, September 21, 5:30-7pm
Bellevue Hyatt, 900 Bellevue Way NE