Absence rate still misses Muni goal 

For the first time in six quarters, unexplained absences among Muni transit operators have dropped, but the drivers still missed their shifts nearly 13 percent of the time. That rate doesn’t meet agency standards and one that results in service reductions and further overtime pay for other employees.

The operators had the third-highest unexplained-absence rate among agency employees, trailing sustainable street shop workers and parking control officers.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, has set a 10.2 percent goal for transit operators’ unexplained absenteeism — accounting for all missed work that is not vacation time — but workers have routinely exceeded that mark, including last fiscal quarter’s 14.8 percent rate that Mayor Gavin Newsom referred to as "unacceptable."

When an operator misses a shift without notice, Muni typically has to either take a bus off the street or call on another driver to work overtime. The transit agency, which is facing a $56.4 million budget deficit for next fiscal year, already is planning to reduce service by 10 percent May 1.

Irwin Lum, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents roughly 2,200 Muni operators, said the unexplained-absence statistic used by the SFMTA is misleading, since it includes categories such as illnesses, military duty, deaths in the family and other unavoidable circumstances.

The operators were actually one of only two classifications at the SFMTA that showed improvement in unexplained absenteeism last fiscal quarter, which ended in December, from the prior quarter, which ended in September. The transit agency’s administration, maintenance and operations workers all missed more time last quarter than the previous period. Operations workers had the biggest leap, from 5.8 to 8.8 percent, which is well over the agency’s goal of 6.9 percent.

The absences statistics come from a draft report presented at the SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee meeting Tuesday. Although the numbers are preliminary, little change is expected before they are presented to the board of directors in April, transit agency spokesman Judson True said.



Unexplained absenteeism rates

SFMTA classification FY2009 FY2010 Q1 FY2010 Q2 Agency goal
Operators 14.0% 14.8% 12.9% 10.2%
Administration 4.7% 4.4% 5.4% 6.7%
Operations 6.8% 5.8% 8.8% 6.9%
Maintenance 5.9% 5.2% 6.9% 6.9%
Parking enforcement 13.7% 13.3% 13.5% 14.9%
Street shops 13.2% 14.6% 14.6% 10.5%
Street shops admin. 2.2% 1.4% 1.4% 4.0%
Customer service 5.9% 6.3% 6.0% 7.4%

Includes absences such as sick leave, sick on run, industrial claims, suspensions, other leaves, AWOL, jury duty, unpaid loans to union and tardiness, among others.

Source: SFMTA

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