Mayor, TWU Reach Tentative Labor Agreement to Help Reduce MTA Deficit

irwin_lum_1.jpgTWU Prez Irwin Lum outside an MTA Board meeting last year. Photo by Bryan Goebel.
After a week of intense labor negotiations at City Hall, Transport Workers Union President Irwin Lum and Mayor Gavin Newsom's office confirmed late Friday night that both sides have reached agreement on the "framework of a proposal" that would help Muni reduce its current $16.9 million budget deficit.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed, but sources told Streetsblog the deal would help reduce service cuts and take Fast Pass fare hikes for youth, seniors and the disabled off the table.

"After several days of negotiations, tonight TWU leaders, Mayor Newsom and MTA agreed to a framework of a proposal that will go to TWU members this week and be voted on by TWU members in the next two weeks," Newsom communications director Tony Winnicker said in a statement.  "We cannot discuss the details of the proposal until members have a chance to hear about it, but TWU deserves great credit for being an active partner in negotiations and working collaboratively to help close MTA's unprecedented budget shortfalls."

Lum, whose union represents Muni operators and fare inspectors, would not call any of the proposals concessions. "They're proposals that try to look at all angles of the cuts that are going to face our members and the public."

"There's a lot of issues going on in terms of service reductions and fare hikes which we're concerned about, and also the issue of layoffs that affect our folks," Lum said. "I think we're mindful of the needs of riders that they need transportation that gets them wherever they need to go, and with further cuts and hikes it's really going to impact the city as a whole."

Lum refused to give a figure on how much the proposals would help reduce Muni's deficit, but the Chronicle reported it was $14.9 million over two years. The newspaper also said the service cuts would be reduced from 10 percent to 6.5 percent, but sources told Streetsblog it was closer to 8 percent.

Operators originally faced 170 layoffs from their ranks as part of a proposed 10 percent reduction in Muni service, but a smaller service reduction might mean closer to 110 operator positions would be eliminated.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd had proposed a ballot measure to amend the City Charter and set operator salaries entirely through collective bargaining, instead of setting them at the second highest in the country. That was yanked Thursday, reportedly at the the Mayor's request.

The idea, sources say, was that Elsbernd retracting his proposal would cause the TWU to bring a significant amount to the table. Since the charter amendment is still in effect, TWU employees may be the only city employees to get a raise this year, estimated to be somewhere between 8 and 10 million dollars.

Updated 11:55 p.m.

Michael Rhodes contributed to this report.