Supervisor Sean Elsbernd wheeled in thousands of signatures needed to place a Muni reform measure on the November ballot Thursday, the same day that bus drivers scored a 5.5 percent raise currently mandated by city law.
Those Muni raises are the impetus behind Elsbernd’s campaign to scrap the city charter rule that sets Muni pay and work rules, and instead force bus drivers to collectively bargain their wages and work rules. Elsbernd says this measure will ensure that Muni drivers are not automatically the second-highest-paid bus drivers in the nation.
Elsbernd turned in 74,884 signatures. That’s roughly 30,000 more than he needed, bolstering the likelihood voters will see the issue on the November ballot. The Department of Elections has 30 days to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Elsbernd filed the signatures five days before the July 6 deadline, in part to make a statement. July 1, the start of the next fiscal year, is the day Muni drivers receive their 5.5 percent raises as mandated by the city charter.
“It’s not lack of coincidence that unlike any other group of city employees, Muni drivers will be receiving a pay raise — $9 million dollars will be going into their pockets this year,” Elsbernd said. “We just made significant cuts in service and we just raised fares, and that’s one more reason the electorate’s going to vote for this.”
Elsbernd noted that his measure empowers Muni riders while the competing board measure empowers city supervisors.
The signature-gathering campaign wrapped up the same week Muni officials announced their intention to roll back the 10 percent cut in service by Sept. 4. The debt-ridden agency implemented the service cuts on May 8 as a means to save roughly $29 million annually.
Muni operators fueled the political fires after twice rejecting concessions that would have saved millions and spared riders cuts to service. The Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 bus operators in San Francisco, did not return phone calls Thursday.
“TWU twice failed to step up and offer concessions that would have protected Muni service and Muni riders,” Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said. “Now, TWU leaves transit riders and voters no choice but to act.”