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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Muni Strikes a Money-Saving Deal with Operators -- Finally

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Next stop: TWA Local 250 headquarters
  • Next stop: TWA Local 250 headquarters

As of last month, we were absolutely sure that the standoff between Muni and its operators would result in one side getting thrown under the bus. And this notion was further crystallized when the union started prepping for a strike, while the city geared up its legal team.

But union and management announced today that the notoriously contentious duo arrived at a money-saving deal thanks to Proposition G -- the Muni reform measure that swept the polls in November.

No, the talks over the last two months haven't been a "cakewalk," as Muni officials put it, but the fact that the two sides were able to agree on something was worth reporting.

"I'd say the driving force was Prop. G," says Charles Goodyear, the PR consultant hired by Muni. "It was the knowledge that if they didn't come to an agreement at the table, an arbitrator would figure it out for them -- and I don't think [union] leadership was keen to that." 

But an arbitrator is still a possibility since the agreement hasn't yet been ratified by the TWA Local 250 A, which represents more than 2,000 operators and mechanics. A union vote is expected on June 8.

According to Goodyear, the contents of the three-year deal, which would save $21 million, includes pay freezes, new discipline rules, and redefining what constitutes overtime work. All of this will give Muni management a little more power and authority over its operators, who until now, received automatic raises without collective bargaining.

In addition, the tentative agreement strips away costly management-union boards, and it no longer allows unlicensed Muni drivers to get paid.

Muni officials say they are hopeful that this deal will truly reform bus service so that riders are at least somewhat happy with the transit agency.

Rafael Cabrera, president of TWU Local 250-A, said negotiations weren't easy, and that members had to rise to the occasion. He then went out with a final punch.

"Part of our agreement with SFMTA was not to discuss the terms ad conditions with the public until our members have had a chance to review the TA," Cabrera says. "It's very disappointing that SFMTA's outside media consultant has already violated the terms of our agreement with a detailed and inaccurate press release."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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