Judge strikes down portions of voter-approved S.F. transit labor bargaining measure 

click to enlarge Prop. G’s passage in 2010 was originally expected to save $26 million a year on labor; that goal was later reduced. - CINDY CHEW/2008 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Cindy Chew/2008 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Prop. G’s passage in 2010 was originally expected to save $26 million a year on labor; that goal was later reduced.

Several portions of legislation passed by voters to give The City more bargaining leverage with Muni operators have been overturned by the California Public Employment Relations Board.

Proposition G, supported by 65 percent of San Francisco voters in 2010, paved the way for wholesale reforms of work rules governing the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,200 Muni operators. The legislation, backed by regional think tank SPUR and former Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, gave management at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency greater control in determining pay, work schedules, health benefits and other job perks. The agency manages and operates Muni.

The operators union challenged the legislation in both state and federal courts, and while those efforts had failed in Washington, they have paid off in Sacramento.

On Tuesday, Shawn Cloughesy, an administrative law judge with the Public Employment Relations Board, ruled that several provisions of Prop. G violated the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which stipulates fair bargaining conditions for public workers.

Cloughesy said Prop. G adopted and enforced unreasonable regulations, denied parties their right to represent employees in employment relations, and interfered with bargaining units’ members’ right to participate in activities of their choosing.

Cloughesy ruled that the City Charter should be amended to remove the provisions of Prop. G and that the transit agency post the new rules within 10 days of the April 30 ruling.

Bernard Broughton, secretary-treasurer of Local 250-A, called the judge’s ruling a major victory for the union.
“This basically removed the nuts and bolts of Proposition G,” said Broughton.

Union spokesman Ron Austin likened Prop. G to the anti-union laws passed in Wisconsin, and he said that Cloughesy’s decision restored some of the rights gained by workers over the past five decades.

However, Paul Rose, a spokesman for the transit agency, said only a few provisions of Prop. G were removed.
“We’re reviewing the decision and expect to proceed as normal while we make a determination about how the agency will respond to this ruling,” Rose said.

Gabe Metcalf, executive director of SPUR, said he would continue to fight for Prop. G.

“We need to get to the bottom of this to understand what really happened,” Metcalf said. “But we’re not going to give up on the fight to get a transit system that actually works for people of San Francisco.”

By giving the transit agency more control over the union’s pay rate, overtime scheduling and the ability to hire part-time operators, Prop. G was originally projected to save $26 million a year. However, that projection was later decreased to $17.4 million over three years.

Following the judge’s ruling, Austin said the union could potentially challenge the legality of Local 250-A’s current contract.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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