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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bell-Ringing Boycott More Terrible PR For Muni Union

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge No bells, no whistles - RICK DIKEMAN
Leadership of the Transportation Workers Union, it seems, inadvertently read the Dale Carnegie tome How to Win Friends and Influence People backwards -- and constantly endeavor lose friends and alienate people. Just when you think the Muni Drivers' union couldn't possibly come up with ways to more effectively enrage the public -- and let down its own workers -- you get something like yesterday's mind-boggling demonstration. Or, more accurately, lack of a demonstration.

With Muni workers yesterday set to compete in the 48th annual Cable Car Bell-Ringing Contest -- which, if nothing else, humanizes the workers and provides joy to the general public -- no one stepped up to ring the bell. It was a bell boycott.

The TWU said it had nothing to do with it, but multiple Muni employees told the media that they'd been ordered to not compete by union representatives. In the end, this makes the union appear both heavy handed and duplicitous.

Unless the union really didn't have anything to do with it -- and workers opted to take the contest off and then blame it on the TWU -- it's difficult to comprehend the union's motives. The message comes through loud and clear: Fuck you. But that's a message voters can easily return in November via Prop. G -- which would do away with drivers' city charter-enshrined pay raises and subject them to collective bargaining. No matter how upset the union is over the looming election and recent city demands -- drivers paying for parking, for one -- it's hard to see how this helped.

If you're keeping track of the TWU's public miscues, add this to the following list: Seeking injunctive relief against even partially restoring service cuts; Not once but twice rejecting labor concessions in the heart of the city's budget crisis -- and accepting $8 million in raises while other union workers were giving up money; going on record as the sole union in the city that wouldn't give up a cent during the aforementioned budget crunch; and, finally, explicitly accusing those who'd alter Muni drivers' guaranteed pay raises of racism.

Come November, we'll see for whom the bell tolls.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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