Wage talks to be either a boost or bust for SFMTA 

  • SF Examiner file photo

Upcoming contract negotiations with its 16 different workers unions could reduce — or even increase — a two-year, $53.2 million budget deficit for San Francisco’s transit agency.

Representing roughly 2,500 employees, the 16 unions make up about half the workforce of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni. That does not include the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,200 vehicle operators.

Last year, the SFMTA and Local 250-A agreed to a contract that could save the agency $41 million over three years.

It’s unclear if the SFMTA can reach similar savings with the other unions. The agency has not factored potential labor savings into its upcoming budget.

SFMTA Executive Director Ed Reiskin has cautioned the board of directors that wage decreases accepted by various unions over the past two years are set to expire at the end of June. Also, many unions are in line for cost-of-living wage increases, and federal grant programs that fund a number of different employees are unlikely to be renewed, Reiskin has said.

Still, SFMTA board Chairman Tom Nolan said he is hopeful for cost savings.

“Given the overall state of the economy, I think we should be able to figure something out to help the agency,” he said.

Larry Bradshaw, vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which is engaged in the contract talks, said workers have already taken significant wage and benefits hits over the past two years. He said instead of further concessions, The City could pursue revenue-generating reforms to business taxes on large corporations.

Reiskin, who was hired in July, has made expenditure reductions a priority in this year’s budget cycle. More than $26 million in expenditures have been eliminated since the two-year budget was released in November.

But the SFMTA is still facing such a pressing deficit that it’s considering increasing fares, reducing transit service and extending parking meter enforcement to nights and Sundays.

The board of directors will get an update Tuesday on the agency’s labor negotiations. The deadline for the talks is looming, as new contracts must be approved by June 30.


Union negotiations

16 Unions set to engage in contract talks with SFMTA

2,500 SFMTA workers represented by those unions

4.62% Wage decrease agreed to in 2010 by those unions

5,000 Total SFMTA employees

$53.2M SFMTA two-year budget deficit

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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