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Friday, May 30, 2014

Muni Drivers Voting on Union Contract -- and It's Not Looking Good

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM

click to enlarge We all vote no on this... - JIM HERD
  • Jim Herd
  • We all vote no on this...

"Sick-out" rumors swirl on heels of contract vote

Starting at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. and continuing until 5 p.m., Muni's unionized drivers will be voting today on whether to accept or spurn the contract management has put on the table. 

Calls to both management and the union have not yet been returned. But a dozen-odd drivers have said they plan to vote this contract down -- with gusto. 

"I know we're gonna vote it down," says one longtime operator. "It's going down." 

Memorandums of Understanding are beastly complicated things. In fact, they're often rather difficult to understand. But, drivers say, the sticking point for them, was rancor and confusion over pay increases and a commensurate spike in their pension contributions. 

While union members say they were led to believe they'd be earning 5 percent more pay and contributing 5 percent more to their pensions, the deal, as it stands, calls for a 7 percent hike in pension contributions. 

In actuality, increasing pay and pensions by the identical percentage is a money-loser for the city. 

First off, higher salaries mean larger pensions down the road. Second, the city pays additional taxes -- Social Security, Unemployment, and Long-Term Disability -- on those augmented salaries. SF Weekly has been told in past years that the city must spend $1.16 for every dollar it puts toward workers' salaries.  

Regardless, drivers say they're irked that a five-for-five proposition shifted into a five-for-seven. Management, again, has not yet returned our calls. 

An apt metaphor?
  • An apt metaphor?

Disdain with the current contract offer is high enough that rumors have begun circulating of a driver "sick-out" on Monday. Muni workers, like most all San Francisco workers, are forbidden by city charter from going out on strike. But the charter has no bearing on illicit activities such as quasi-sanctioned slow-downs or mass numbers of workers calling in sick. 

In 2010, for example, 20 percent of AC Transit drivers called in sick on Monday, July 19. The union, naturally, denied the existence of a sick-out. In that same year, an all-caps, semi-grammatical flier made the rounds among Muni drivers, urging them to also engage in a sick-out

This did not come to pass, and it remains to be seen what, if anything, will transpire on Monday. 

"I think they should do it," says one driver regarding his brethren. But he doesn't believe they will: "They're too posey."  

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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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