SFMTA Reaches Tentative Labor Agreement with Muni Operators Union

Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/27696367/sizes/m/in/photostream/##Thomas Hawk##

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) says it will save at least $21.3 million in labor costs over three years after reaching a tentative contract agreement with the union representing Muni operators, SFMTA spokesperson Charles Goodyear announced today.

The new tentative agreement includes terms that would freeze Muni operator pay, allow the SFMTA to hire part-time Muni operators, redefine “overtime” work, schedule Muni service more flexibly, alter disciplinary procedures, review Muni crashes more cost-efficiently, and take non-licensed operators off the payroll.

“We are very pleased that these bargaining sessions over the past three months have yielded a positive result for our customers, our employees and the Agency,” Debra Johnson, director of Administration, Taxis and Accessible Services for the SFMTA, said in a statement.

The agreement comes after months of contract negotiations between SFMTA management and Local Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 drivers, as mandated by Proposition G, which was approved by voters last November.

“These contract talks were intense but both sides acted professionally. Ultimately, we arrived at a contract compromise that will produce significant cost savings and will change how Muni is managed over the long term,” said Johnson.

TWU officials are trying to overturn Prop G and block federal funding grants for Muni projects on the grounds that Prop G is illegally unfair to labor. TWU Acting President Rafael Cabrera did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Savings in labor costs and new work rules could potentially allow the SFMTA to improve Muni service for riders by freeing up needed funds for costs like vehicle maintenance, more effectively deterring driver absenteeism, and allowing part-time drivers to supplement peak-hour service.

Here are the details of the terms released by the SFMTA today:

  • The hiring of part-time operators at a rate equal to 15 percent of the total budgeted operator positions at the Agency.
  • Redefinition of overtime as work performed in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
  • Clear contract language that states management’s right to schedule Muni service “consistent with the transit needs of the City and County of San Francisco.”
  • Extending the amount of time the Agency may take to conduct an investigation relating to discipline and grievance procedures from 14 calendar days to 42 business days.
  • Eliminating the costly joint management-union Accident Review Board and allowing the Agency’s Chief Safety Officer to appoint a transit safety investigator to determine whether specific Muni accidents were preventable.
  • Eliminating the current contract provision that allows non-licensed Muni operators to remain on the payroll.

SFMTA management is “continuing to calculate the final estimated cost savings that will result from this new agreement,” said Goodyear. The agreement still needs to be approved by TWU members as well as the SFMTA Board of Directors. If the TWU ratifies the agreement, Goodyear said the terms will be available for public review for 14 days.

  • Anon

    21 million over three years? wtf MUNI? 2nd highest paid in the nation with no cuts for years and that’s the best that MTA can negotiate? 3k in savings per operator per year and no pay cut? Fire Nat Ford.

  • Anon

    and i’d correct that their salary floor was the average of the three highest.  as a result, they may be the highest paid by far, depends on how it was implemented…which judging by this negotiation probably wasnt implmented well. 

  • NOTE: while many have issues with Muni drivers and their contracts their pay has not been a key issue affecting Muni performance. Instead, it is issues like the work rules causing there to not be enough drivers. Extra drivers are needed, but only during rush hours. But because of the current rules Muni has to pay lots of overtime to fill in the gaps and hire drivers who don’t actually drive during the middle of the day. Being able to hire more part-time drivers will go far to address one of the biggest problems facing Muni, much more than trying to reduce their salary by a few percent.

    And to clarify things, prop G from a couple of years ago removed the salary floor. This means that there is no longer the obligation to pay Muni drivers amongst the top salaries in the nation.

  • Anonymous

    It was never realistic to expect that all of Muni’s current deficit could be fixed by negotiations with one bargaining unit in an agency with several. That was never the point of Prop. G. G is a long term solution that will update work rules more appropriate to the 21st century and eliminate wasteful practices that were costing the agency money. Every other union at Muni has agreed to far bigger pay cuts.

    The effect of G will take years, and no one who knew anything thought any different. There is no magic wand to fix Muni, and anyone who thinks simplistic bullshit will work is just as delusional as anyone at City Hall who thinks there’s “free money” out there to spend as we like.

  • GoGregorio

    Based on what Michael Smith just said (and what I understand to be true), this new contract should be more effective at improving service, rather than reducing costs.  Is that an accurate assumption?

  • 2 bits say they vote it down…

  • Daniel Krause

    Any provision to deal with the excessive absenteesism? That is a huge reason why there are not enough drivers. Will drivers at least have to notifying management when they are taking a sick day?

  • Anonymous

    Well, the redefinition of overtime might at least reduce the incentive for absenteeism (since being absent won’t mean overtime later).

    Reading this makes me cautiously optimistic.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the redefinition of overtime might at least reduce the incentive for absenteeism (since being absent won’t mean overtime later).

    Reading this makes me cautiously optimistic.