Muni drivers reject contract deal by overwhelming margin 

Muni ’s operators voted down a proposed labor contract Wednesday that would have saved up to
$46 million, marking the third time in the last year they rejected money- saving deals supported by union leaders and management.

The 2,000 members of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, the operators union, voted 994 to 488 to reject a tentative three-year contract agreement reached last week between union leadership and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

SFMTA officials reacted with dejection to the vote.

“I’m incredibly disappointed by this,” said Tom Nolan, chair of the SFMTA’s board of directors. “I thought this vote could go either way, but to see it turned down so emphatically is really disheartening.”

“We’re disappointed, obviously, by this outcome,” said Nat Ford, executive director of the SFMTA.

A release by TWU officials attributed the vote to a misinformation campaign spread by SFMTA management. The organization specifically called out Charles Goodyear, a spokesman hired by the agency to handle the negotiations process.

“The actions by management’s spokesman created a sense of mistrust and confusion that was hard to overcome,” said TWU Local 250-A president Rafael Cabrera.

Twice last year, SFMTA management and union leadership seemingly locked up contract concessions that would have saved the agency millions. However, both times the union’s members rejected the deals.

The contract proposal rejected on Wednesday would have allowed the SFMTA to hire some part-time operators, change work rules to cut down on overtime pay, and eliminate a contract provision that allows nonlicensed drivers to remain on the payroll.

It also included a measure that would have given management increased control over the disciplinary process — a change that operators were particularly averse to, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The contract did not include any pay cuts or raises, and several original SFMTA initiatives — such as reducing pay rates for evening shifts and eliminating paid lunch breaks  — were not included in the final deal.

After the agreement was announced last week, the MTA said it would realize $21 million in savings over the three years — an annual rate of $7 million that was far below the agency’s original projections of $26 million a year.

However, according to a release sent out by the SFMTA last night, revised projections show the pact would have resulted in cost reductions of $38 million over three years, not including $8 million saved by the lack of pay raises.

Jamie Horwitz, spokesman for the operators union, expressed serious doubts from the reworked figures, saying the actual numbers were likely much lower.

The contract talks were made possible by the passage in November of Proposition G, a voter-backed initiative that gives SFMTA management more leeway in labor negotiations with the operators union. The union has filed state and federal suits in hopes of overturning the proposition.

Not even close

On Wednesday, Muni’s operators rejected a deal for a tentative new contract.

The details
994 Votes against
488 Votes for
67% Workers who voted against the deal

What happens next

- Today, an independent arbitrator will begin to review the contract negotiations before determining its final fate.

- A binding pact is expected to be determined by Tuesday. It could mirror the original tentative agreement, or parts of it could be modified.

- The deal does not need to be ratified by the SFMTA board or union members.

- The new contract cannot adversely affect transit service, a caveat that could favor management.

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Will Reisman

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