The Washington Nationals are set to host the MLB All-Star game a full 10 seasons after the opening of Nationals Park, but it appears a D.C. Metro labor dispute could throw the whole experience into disarray.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the largest union of D.C. Metro workers, has called for a vote on Sunday that would authorize union leaders to call for a three-day strike, according to a report from Washington news radio station WTOP. Such a strike would likely hold significant consequences for the All-Star game, which is scheduled to take place Tuesday.
NEW: Union official tells @nbcwashington DC Metro rail/bus operators will vote on strike Sunday. Possibly targeting Tuesday (MLB All-Star Game). If it passes (and is permitted)
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 13, 2018
When is the MLB All-Star game scheduled?
The 2018 MLB All-Star game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 17 at Nationals Park. The game will be televised on Fox and you can check out the initial rosters here, though several other players have already been added as injury replacements.
Additionally, the Home Run Derby is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 16. The Nationals’ Bryce Harper is the early favorite in a field that includes No. 1 seed Jesus Aguilar of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Why are D.C. Metro workers threatening to strike?
This threat to strike seems to be an escalation of a conflict between the union and Metro that has been going on for a while now, and the union’s demands are somewhat unclear. Per the WTOP report, union president Jackie Jeter has been threatening to call the vote in response to Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld sending out a memo that detailed discipline for workers who purposefully came in late to work in another union action.
The union’s collective bargaining agreement expired more than two years ago and there is an upcoming arbitration ruling that could decide the future funding of the Metro, according to WTOP. A major issue in negotiations is that employee raises in the new agreement could be retroactive to the expiration of the last agreement, which would cost nine figures to pay.
Under the expired agreement, union workers are reportedly not allowed to strike, with an arbitration and grievance system instead used to handle disputes. In WTOP’s report, Wiedefeld has threatened to take the union to court to fight the strike.
A strike likely wouldn’t be pretty for the Metro, as the ATU Local 689 represents 9,000 of Metro’s 12,500 employees.
D.C. sports’ awkward relationship with the Metro
Even if the strike goes through, it would be nowhere near the first time the quirks of the D.C. Metro has inconvenienced D.C. sports teams.
For years, the Metro has operated with hours ending at midnight. That has obviously led to some transport inconvenience for sports fans whose games go past midnight. The Nationals have paid the Metro to stay open later in the past, but have refused to do so since the rate spiked from $29,500 to $100,000. It comes up particularly frequently with the Nationals, who have had to pay the Metro extra money in the past to say open during the playoffs.
Instead, private companies have stepped in to “sponsor” later hours during major games, like when a Chicago power company paid the Metro during last year’s NLDS between the Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
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