Muni’s new $100K public relations firm fires first salvo in labor negotiations 

The first press release went out Wednesday from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s new $100,000 man.

Despite facing a $21.2 million budget deficit, the SFMTA hired a private public relations firm to handle outreach efforts related to the agency’s labor negotiations with its transit operators union.

On Wednesday morning, local public relations pro Charlie Goodyear issued a release on the labor struggle, the first public action since the agency’s $100,000 contract was approved Monday by the Civil Service Commission. The commission did not reveal who the contract was awarded to on Monday.

Goodyear is a former employee of Sam Singer, an oft-used public relations maven who has represented local agencies like the San Francisco Zoo and the Transbay Transit Center. Ironically, Goodyear was chosen for the SFMTA job over Singer.

The SFMTA’s contract with the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents more than 2,000 transit operators, expires on July 1.

Due to the passage of Proposition G by voters in November, the agency has unprecedented leverage to negotiate with the operators union, whose work rules and pay structure were previously enshrined in the City Charter, and ineligible for collective bargaining.

The SFMTA is hoping to save millions from the new bargaining agreement, according to the agency’s chief negotiator Debra Johnson, who was quoted in Goodyear’s release.

“We recognize that this is a new direction for our employees, whose hard work we value, and for the union leadership,” said Johnson. “But Muni customers and San Francisco voters are expecting and demanding major changes in our labor contract, changes that could save us millions of dollars a year which can be reinvested in our transit service.”

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Will Reisman

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