The union representing Muni operators is seeking to buck the will of San Francisco voters, filing a federal challenge to Proposition G, the 2010 ballot initiative that overhauled labor negotiations for the city's troubled public transit agency.
Lawyers for Transportation Workers United Local 250-A have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that Prop. G violates provisions of federal law requiring that transit agencies receiving federal dollars adhere to basic standards of fairness in dealing with workers. Specifically, the union is unhappy with aspects of the law that require workers and management to submit to binding arbitration for unresolved disputes.
Muni sucks, as all of us know who are forced to ride it regularly. One reason Prop. G passed in November with an overwhelming 65 percent of the vote was that local transit workers have managed to secure cushy work rules and lavish benefits packages incongruous with the dysfunction riders must endure. In 2010, Muni workers received upward of $9 million in raises even as
the Municipal Transportation Agency, faced with a budget crisis, cut bus
service by 10 percent.
Prop. G ended the standing rule that operators were entitled, every year, to the second-highest salary of transit workers in any American municipality. (They now have to bargain for their salaries, like members of other unions.) The proposition could also help end what reform advocates say are wasteful work rules, such as the exorbitant bonuses Muni drivers get for working night shifts.
Yet the union's challenge, if it succeeds, could hit the city where it hurts. San Francisco has a number of pricey capital projects that are benefiting from federal funds for transportation, including the Central Subway. Stay tuned.
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