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King County residents are well-informed and show true interest in our transit system. Christine Clarridge’s article featuring an exemplary operator, Cherry Gilbert, gives a view into the heart and soul of the Metro system — its employees.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587 represents Gilbert and 3,895 others. These people include many who are behind the scenes: mechanics, janitors, carpenters, upholsterers, streetcar and light-rail operators, and 50-plus other specific trades needed to keep transit moving.

Metro is enjoying a robust expansion of this system with new equipment and better schedules. Yet the hallmark of a truly top-tier system is investing in its employees. In the past, Metro has been the No. 1 transit agency in the country, and can be again. Unfortunately, workers’ wages and safe working conditions, as well as affordable medical coverage, are not in the long-range plan.

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King County holds up “best-run government” and “equity and social justice” as priorities. ATU and King County have not been able to reach a labor agreement at the bargaining table in six years. Will Metro embrace King County’s largest bargaining group with a contract that values the skills that Gilbert brings to her riders every day?

Patrick Brady, Seattle, ATU 587 treasurer