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Posts from the Unions Category


SFMTA Reaches Tentative Labor Agreement with Muni Operators Union

Flickr photo: 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.

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Bridge the Gap!

bikes_small.jpgPhoto: Matthew Roth
As I climbed the steps out of the Lake Merritt BART station this morning I heard loud chanting. "Wow," I thought, "those bicyclists have really pulled out the troops!" But the demonstrators that greeted me across 8th Street in Oakland were pile drivers, iron workers, carpenters and other trades workers, chanting "Jobs for Oakland Now!" Not far from their boisterous demonstration in front of the main doors of the Joseph Brot Metro Center were a few cyclists showing their signs to passersby, "Bridge the Gap Now" "All the Way Across the Bay" and "Safety Path!" Across the street, Transform and Urban Habitat were also making their presence felt, opposing the Oakland Airport Connector that the building trades unionists were clamoring for.

Democracy in action, I suppose. Long-time bicycle advocates from the East Bay and San Francisco converged on this meeting, hoping to convince the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) to support using some of the new tolls ($5 on all bridges as of July 1, with $6 congestion pricing on the Bay Bridge during rush hour, and for the first time, a half-price toll for carpoolers) to fund a new west-span bicycle/pedestrian/maintenance/safety lane to make the bridge safer, and to finish the transbay route for bicyclists and pedestrians too, not just motorized vehicles. But that effort was bureaucratically sidetracked before this meeting even started.



Guest Commentary: Transpo Advocates Should Support Hotel Workers

Transportation advocates were caught off-guard last month when the ANSWER Coalition and other leftist groups declared that extended parking meter hours represented an assault on the poor and working class, despite the overwhelming evidence that the poor and working class are predominantly more reliant on transit than cars for transportation. The absence of these organizations in earlier and ongoing struggles against Muni fare hikes and service cuts discredited their umbrage somewhat, but important questions remain: How in touch are local transportation advocates with communities of color, working families, and immigrants? And how can we reach out and improve our connections?

Recent three-day strikes by workers in UniteHere! Local 2 against the Grand Hyatt Hotel near Union Square and the Palace on New Montgomery Street promise a long, contentious struggle for a new contract between the union and 31 hotels in the City. This battle offers an opportunity for transportation advocates to act immediately as well as to lay the groundwork for future alliances. We should support the hotel workers for many reasons. The issues are political, practical, moral, and environmental.

Bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians who have long been marginalized should find it easy to identify with the invisible workers in hotels and restaurants in their desire to be treated with respect and dignity. The membership of Local 2 reflects San Francisco, with large numbers of immigrants and women, many in positions of leadership in the union. Chants and print materials are cranked out in several languages.

About 60 percent of Local 2 workers live in San Francisco, and another 15 percent live in Daly City. An overwhelming majority, 90 to 95 percent, take public transportation to work, according to Riddhi Mehta, press coordinator for the union. Their shifts, like those of hospital workers, go around the clock, so they must deal with poor service late at night.

Earnings to support a family are in the $30,000 per-year range, compared with the $4,808,961 earned last year by the CEO of Starwood Corporation, owners of the Palace. But healthcare and other benefits the workers do have, as opposed to the takeaways being proposed by management, enable many of these families to avoid being forced to move to far-flung suburbs in search of cheaper housing. Transportation advocates should be singing the praises of such a green workforce.