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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get Propositioned: Pensions Fail, Bus Drivers Dinged, and Sit-Lie Runs

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 8:15 AM

click to enlarge 'Oh, what a beautiful morning...'
  • 'Oh, what a beautiful morning...'

It must be a bittersweet morning to be driving the Muni bus. With the vast majority of the city's votes counted, Proposition G -- which removes drivers from their exalted status as the only city workers not having to enter collective bargaining for their wages -- has an insurmountable lead.

Drivers, no longer guaranteed the second-highest wage in the nation, will likely concede some of the patently ludicrous union rules they'd amassed over the years, measure supporters say. Rules that, say, kept the agency from hiring more part-time drivers during rush hour and instead sending out regular drivers earning overtime worked fine for the drivers. Not for riders. So it's a blue morning for the men and women in brown.

On the other hand, Muni drivers still won't have to contribute a cent toward their pension plans, as Measure B went down last night -- a victory for the unions and every elected official in town -- save Prop. B author, public defender Jeff Adachi.

The successful No on B campaign was able to convince voters the measure was a "draconian" attempt to deprive working families of health care. Indeed, the vast majority of the projected $121 million in yearly savings the measure would have brought about came from requiring city employees to contribute 50 percent toward dependent costs -- not the current 25 percent.

It was a poignant -- and overwhelming -- campaign. But, just as marijuana supporters have pledged to try, try again, we can expect more political movement regarding city workers' benefits. San Francisco has an unfunded retiree health care liability hovering between $4 billion and $5 billion -- the city controller will release an estimate this month. The city is already spending $1 billion a year on workers' benefits -- not salaries, just benefits. Pension costs have hit $324 million yearly and are projected to double within four years. You'll be hearing about this again.  

Finally, the sit-lie measure -- which will give police an enhanced ability to roust those in the supine position on sidewalks -- has 53 percent of the vote at this time. Opponents have trashed the measure as a manufactured "wedge issue" intended to bring right-leaning voters to the polls (possible) and an attempt to allow San Francisco police to strong-arm the indigent (less possible) and turn the city into a literal Baghdad by the Bay (okay then).

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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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