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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) board yesterday approved an employee buyout plan that would offer eligible employees a voluntarily severance package to avoid some layoffs as the agency grapples with a $176 million budget shortfall, The Washington Post reported.
About 2,000 employees who are eligible for retirement will be offered $15,000 to leave the agency in order to avoid as many layoffs as possible. WMATA needs to eliminate 1,400 jobs to balance its 2021 budget.
Raymond Jackson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 — WMATA's largest labor union — spoke out against the buyout plan.
“It is clear that [WMATA] is rushing to cut service and lay off employees, especially when there is a great possibility for additional funding under the incoming Biden-Harris administration,” Jackson said in a statement, according to the Post.
WMATA Chairman Paul Smedberg told the news outlet that without a degree of certainty for federal funding, the agency has to address realities and can’t wait until President-elect Joe Biden and a new Congress take office in January to make a decision.
The board also approved rail service cuts that would result in less frequent weekday service.