On the heals of yesterday's vote by Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 250 rank-and-file to reject the contract concessions negotiated by their President, Irwin Lum, and Mayor Gavin Newsom and senior management at the San Francisco MTA, Mayor Newsom expressed dismay and said he would support a November ballot initiative to force the issue with the union.
"We're hopeful that they can reconcile and they can go back to their membership and they can reconsider their vote," said Newsom after a press conference with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act held at UCSF's Alumni House.
Newsom said if TWU membership balked, his office would coordinate with Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on his ballot initiative and put the matter before San Francisco voters this fall. Elsbernd's initiative, which he pulled several weeks ago, sought to amend the City Charter so that operator salary and benefits would not be guaranteed, but would be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. Elsbernd told Streetsblog this morning he was "emphatic" about bringing his amendment back for the November ballot.
"We'll go to the people of San Francisco, we'll get signatures collected immediately. Expect that to be done in the next week or two," said Newsom.
Mayor Newsom painted the issue as one between reducing TWU salaries or raising the fares for seniors, youth, and disabled riders, and he was confident the public would send a stern message to the union. "I don't think the riding public is going to accept a wage increase for the drivers at a time when their [own] wages are down and the fares are going to go up, particularly seniors, youth, and disabled."