Fatter checks for Muni drivers 

Muni operators who have twice spurned concessions that would have saved the transit agency millions of dollars are poised to receive a nearly 6 percent raise.

Unlike every other city union, wage requirements for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 Muni operators, are part of the City Charter, meaning its salaries are not subject to collective bargaining.

As written into the charter, Local 250-A employees must earn an hourly wage that’s the average of the two highest rates in the country for transit operators. As a result, the 2,200 workers stand to receive a 5.73 percent raise, with their average wage rising from $27.92 an hour to $29.52. In total, the wage increase will cost the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, roughly $8 million.

The pay hike comes after rank-and-file members of Local 250-A twice rejected labor concessions that would have saved the cash-strapped SFMTA $19 million during the next two years. Faced with multimillion-dollar deficits, the agency slashed service 10 percent May 8, although it plans to restore 5 percent of that by September.

While The City faced a $483 million budget deficit, every other public labor union agreed to some form of concessions, which helped save $240 million for the  current fiscal year. When Mayor Gavin Newsom signed San Francisco’s $6.5 billion budget Thursday, he mentioned Local 250-A as the lone group to abstain from labor concessions.

Mayoral spokesman Tony Winnicker said the Local 250-A pay increase was “another sucker punch to every other public employee who gave something back to protect city services.”

Through a signature-gathering effort, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd successfully placed a charter amendment on the November ballot that will ask city residents to vote on reforming work rules for Muni operators. If passed, the measure would eliminate the provision that they earn the second-highest wage in the nation and would instead open up their pay to the collective-bargaining process.

On Tuesday, the SFMTA’s board of directors will review the pay increase proposal, although there’s little it can do about the action since it’s written into the City Charter. Once approved, the raise will be retroactive to July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

“Hopefully this will be the last time the MTA board is not adequately allowed to review operator pay,” Elsbernd said. “We believe that in November, voters will decide to put transit first, and not operators’ pay, when it comes to Muni.”

Local 250-A representatives didn’t return calls from The Examiner regarding the pay increase. Union officials have frequently said they are the scapegoat for the SFMTA’s budget problems, which they attribute to widespread department mismanagement.


Mandated windfall

Muni operators are slated to receive a pay raise of nearly $2 per hour.

$27.92: Current average hourly wage for Muni operators

$29.52: Average hourly wage after pay increase

5.73: Percentage increase

$8 million: Cost to SFMTA

$19 million: Labor concessions turned town by operators union in June

$750 million: SFMTA operating budget

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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