Metro CEO prohibits employee travel to North Carolina for upcoming transit conference

Here is the email that Metro CEO Phil Washington sent to agency employees this afternoon: 

LA Metro Family,

Early last month (March, 2016) the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, enacted an ordinance to protect its LGBT residents from discrimination. On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, North Carolina’s governor signed a controversial bill that reversed the city’s decision by enacting a statewide ban on such protections.  APTA supports the city of Charlotte ordinance and was disappointed to see that the North Carolina governor took steps to reverse the city’s decision to protect all citizens.

 As a result, there have been calls for a boycott of North Carolina and APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference, and some governments have enacted official travel restrictions for their employees. I have given this issue some thought over the last couple of days and though I came to a decision earlier in the week, I wanted to first take the time to confer with our Labor/Union Leadership and the employee participants in this year’s APTA Bus Roadeo. That said, I have decided to join several other transit agencies in not allowing employees to travel to the state of North Carolina for the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference.

I do not make this decision lightly, because I realize that many of our employees have been practicing and preparing for the bus roadeo and maintenance competition. However, as I conveyed in my first document to employees a year ago – the “Ready to Serve” document where I outlined “Some of the things that you can expect from me” — I have “Zero tolerance for confirmed theft, sexual harassment/assault, racial/gender discrimination, etc.” This fits into that zero tolerance category.

Finally, this morning I spoke with the President of APTA, Mr. Michael Melaniphy, informing him of my decision to not allow LA Metro employees to attend the conference on our dime. I also offered to host the APTA Bus Roadeo here at LA Metro later this year when we host the 2016 APTA Annual Conference. Michael and I will continue to discuss those possibilities.

In the meantime, we continue to march and be tolerant and respectful of all peoples, regardless of who they are or the color of their skin.

24 replies

  1. Yawn. All this does is hurts employees wanting to go to the conference. Dont punish those who had wanted to or planned on going. Political correctness = hurting those who didnt hurt anyone. Dumb decision by the CEO.

    • Really, while a great networking opportunity and way for Metro employees to show their driving and maintenance skills, not that much is lost there. North Carolina is hurting people and there is no “right” for anyone to go to a conference. Most agencies cut back on conferences and travel severely in the 2008 recession. You should allow people to go to some events for morale and knowledge but you can be selective.

    • If all lives matter, does this not this also cover the people taking the non-LGBT position? As for respecting “each and eveyone” does this not include those who do not support the LGBT position.

      • This argument doesn’t make sense. Trampling on the rights of LGBT people and choosing not to attend a conference aren’t even close to the same thing. Good on Metro and their CEO for doing the right thing.

      • How is not agreeing with the LGBT position “trampling” on their rights? This is the very definition of intolerance…

      • In this particular case, “not agreeing with the LGBT position” means upholding LGBT having less rights. In America, we’re all supposed to have the same rights. Therefore, I consider depriving rights as trampling on them. Nobody is suggesting that people who do not agree with the “LGBT position” have their rights taken away – you can still use the public restrooms in NC, no problem. Further, having Metro pay for an employee to go to NC and participate in some transit event is not a right. Metro is not restricting them from going to NC on their free time, and Metro is not restricting people who do not agree with the “LGBT position” from using public restrooms. One last note, the “LGBT position” that you referred to is called “freedom.” You can also substitute it with, “The American position.”

  2. FINALLY, something I am in 100% agreement with Metro. Right On! and Power To The People!

  3. Good move. LGBT equality is important. Those who trample on the civil rights and human dignity of the most vulnerable in our society need to pay a price.

    • And you are free to set up a fundraiser/donate money so that the selected participants in the Roadeo can still go. But I would hope that APTA would cancel the convention before then.

  4. Bravo!! Standing ovation for Metro and it’s leadership. It is now 2016 and haters from all over must understand once and for all that intolerance for people who are “different” can no longer be allowed.

  5. I like North Carolina, Asheville is a trip, but the Civil War is over and it’s time for the Ol’ South to put away its fear of “different” folks. Anyone who frequents Metro knows that there are many LGBT folks working there and they deserve everyone’s support.
    You’re doing God’s work in the “Taj Mahal” Phil, keep it up!

  6. It is sad that the left believes it is okay to discriminate against people and their believes. Why should a pasture be forced to marry someone they don’t believe should be married? It is okay for someone who wants to do it, but why force someone who does not. I know when I went to get married 21 years ago to my wife the pasture wanted to meet with us and make sure we should be married. So even I had to be approved. The state can do what the state wants to do, but you religious bigots should stay out of the Churches. Otherwise you are just haters.

    • Pastures are where cows eat grass. Plus your use of “religious bigots” is the most ironic I have seen in my lifetime. Thank you for the Monday morning cheer!

  7. There’s a difference between what an employee does on their own time and what an agency does with its employees and money. This was going to be an agency-sponsored trip to North Carolina for an agency event.

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

  8. I can only comment here as a sane person who is literate, but it seems that Metro is just choosing not to send people on company time. I’m sure they are more than welcome to travel there on personal time.

  9. Okay just stop. Listen, I’m just as tired about this PC crap as the next person but now you’re just blabbing on and losing your own argument. I don’t agree with either liberals nor conservatives because they are both the problem in this country, but that is a whole different argument so I won’t get into that.

    That being said, I’m neutral in this situation and as someone else here mentioned, it seems Metro does not want their employees going to North Carolina on the companies time, but are more than fine if the employees want to go on their own pets time. Steve, please feel free to correct me on that.

    • Actually, he has a valid argument. At which point does it all stop? Tolerance is about respect for others as well as the views and beliefs they hold, even when they differ from your own. Intolerance is calling someone a “bigot” because they happen to stand in oppostion of the LGBT position.

  10. I am glad to see that Seattle’s Sound Transit, led by former FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff has also told their employees they will not be going to this convention.

    Hopefully Metro will also consider withdrawing its membership in APTA if that organization continues with holding the convention in North Carolina. That would send a clear message to the industry.

  11. Most sources I’ve read state that our slave holding “Founding Fathers” only represented 33% of the White population in the colonies. 33% wanted to stay with the British Empire (a world-wide government that banned slavery and still works reasonably well in Canada) and 33% who cared less how big or small, foreign or domestic the central government was as long as it worked…so trying to figure out what our White ancestors wanted is pointless. Our judgements need to be based on current times. And, in my opinion North Carolina’s current official opinion is no less “racist” in spirit than ‘ol time Jim Crow, which was (finally) declared unconstitutional. In a practical vein, maybe we should re-equip all public facilities with locking “unisex” cubicles?