Elsbernd: Muni Operator Salary Ballot Measure is Back On

ShowImage.jpgSupervisor Sean Elsbernd. Photo courtesy the City of San Francisco.

With the Muni operators union rejecting a concessions proposal last night that would have helped the MTA balance its budget deficit, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he now plans to bring back a ballot measure that would end the practice of setting Muni operator wages at the average of the two highest-paying transit agencies in the country.

Elsbernd originally introduced the ballot measure late last year, with hopes of bringing the proposal through the Rules Committee and Board of Supervisors. That plan was scuttled two weeks ago when the Mayor, deep in negotiations over a concessions plan with the operators union, asked Elsbernd to back off.

Asked whether the operators union vote to reject the concessions meant he’d bring the ballot measure back, Elsbernd eagerly affirmed. "The answer is an emphatic ‘yes,’" Elsbernd wrote in an email to Streetsblog. "June is not possible, but I will certainly make every effort to get the proposal on the November ballot."

Elsbernd said he now plans to collect signatures for a petition campaign to get the measure on the November ballot. The plan received a cool response from union officials and fellow supervisors when Elsbernd introduced it on the Rules Committee last month. It was roundly opposed at the hearings by the Transport Workers Union, which represents Muni operators, as well as by representatives of the firefighters and hotel workers unions.

If the measure were to pass, it would amend the City Charter so that operator salary and benefit negotiations would occur entirely through the collective bargaining process. Since 1967, Muni operators have generally had their salaries set at the average of the two highest-paying transit agencies nationally, a practice that was formally enshrined in the City Charter with Proposition A in 2007.

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