Hundreds of Metro workers upset with a new sick leave policy attempted to call out sick on Friday, but Metro denied all of their requests.
Workers must now request most excused absences, like for a doctor’s appointment, and get supervisor approval at least three full workdays in advance.
For example, someone who will be sick on Friday has to request the time off by Tuesday in order to follow the new policy.
Nearly 500 workers did just that, asking in advance for a sick day on Friday.
But Metro denied every single one of the requests.
The agency released this statement Wednesday evening:
“Metro received nearly 500 advance absence requests for Friday from bus and rail employees, a rate that is many times higher than normal. We have denied all of the requests. We expect to offer full bus and rail service for our customers as scheduled on Friday.”
The union for Metros’ workers, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, was quick to respond:
“Will WMATA accept the responsibility of refusing a person who is legitimately sick from getting a doctor’s care Friday? Further, will you force them to operate vehicles that transport hundreds or possibly thousands of riders while ill?”
ATU Local 689 said they didn’t ask anyone to call out sick, but they did describe the policy as “ridiculous” and “asinine.”
“We’re tired of the employees taking it on the chin because WMATA is running around like the keystone cops,” said ATU Local 689 President Jackie Jeter.
Unexcused absences, like when you call out sick the same day, are still allowed to a point.
Metro changed the rules in March, all to save money lost to overtime. The agency said too many people are calling out sick.
From July 2015 to June 2016, employees took a combined 181,000 sick days. If those days were people, it would be three-times the population of Rockville.
Metro said it expects to offer full bus and rail service on Friday.