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.