Metro Transit is investigating a complaint that a uniformed employee removed political-campaign yard signs, General Manager Kevin Desmond announced Friday.
In an email to the complaining citizen, Desmond called the allegation a “very serious matter” and said the agency would remind workers of Metro policy that prohibits them from engaging in political activity while working or in uniform.
Desmond acted after receiving an email and photos from Pacific Northwest Equipment Vice President Terry Thomas Jr., who asked Metro and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 to stop drivers from tampering with yard signs. In the photos Thomas sent, a man wearing a Metro employee jacket appears to be pulling up and removing Rob McKenna yard signs from the side of Fourth Avenue South near CenturyLink Field and Metro’s Ryerson base.
Thomas, who supports McKenna, said he received the photos from a friend, and speculated the McKenna for governor signs may have been removed by employees because their union is backing Jay Inslee in the election.
Paul Bachtel, president and business representative of the ATU local, initially said it appeared the photos had been fabricated by McKenna supporters to discredit Inslee. He later told Thomas in an email that Metro had identified the person with the signs was a McKenna supporter who was was trying to protect the signs and who will “suffer the consequences” for violating Metro policy.
“That doesn’t excuse your behavior in falsely attacking our union simply because we endorsed Inslee,” Bachtel wrote to Thomas. Bachtel could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Thomas said he was glad Metro was dealing with possible on-the-job politicking, regardless of the violator’s political motives. He said of Desmond’s quick action, “That’s great. That’s the right way of doing things.”
Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said he couldn’t confirm that Metro had identified the man with the signs because the investigation is continuing.