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PERB Denies TWU Request for Injunction Stopping Muni Service Restorations

Photo: Myleen Holero/Orange Photography
Photo: Myleen Holero/Orange Photography

The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) this afternoon denied a request from the Muni operators union seeking an injunction blocking service restorations that went into effect Saturday. The decision came just hours after SFMTA Chief Nat Ford told the agency's board of directors the restorations have been a success.

"We are proud to say that we were able to make 99 percent of all the scheduled pullouts for transit services that were scheduled. And I say 99 percent but it was closer to 99.9 percent in terms of service restoration," said Ford, who credited Muni operators and noted that a majority showed up for work despite the looming threat of a sickout.

"It's made a significant impact in terms of service quality that our riders so desperately need," he said.

The agency has now been able to restore about 61 percent of the service it cut in May after identifying about $15 million in funding sources and operational savings. It includes a 10 percent restoration the SFMTA Board voted on in July. Ford announced today that a task force charged with identifying funding to restore the remainder of service by this January will hold its first public meeting this Thursday from 1-3 p.m. in Room 288 at City Hall.

TWU Local-250 A claimed in a grievance (PDF) filed with PERB last Wednesday that the SFMTA "through a series of unilateral actions has committed an unfair labor practice that will result in irreparable harm" to its membership. It claimed the SFMTA did not engage in "good faith and confer efforts" over the service cuts implemented in May, the agency's new absenteeism policy and the service restorations that were announced August 3.

The union's leadership was also upset that it was informed about the latest round of service restorations by Streetsblog and not the SFMTA. Despite a meeting with agency representatives the same day the restorations were announced, TWU officials said no one from the SFMTA informed them of the news, which was first announced by the Mayor on KCBS radio.

The changes have meant a juggling of schedules for operators along with cuts in stand-by hours. The grievance sought to have PERB's lawyers block the restorations along with the absenteeism policy and stand-by hour reductions. TWU's acting president, Rafael Cabrera, could not be reached for comment.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose would not comment on the decision except to say that "we remain focused on restoration and finding ways to fully restore service by December."

"It's good news," said Dan Murphy, the chair of the SFMTA's Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). "The idea of this all getting tied up in litigation would have been a source of great frustration for riders."

Murphy said he'll be watching closely to see whether the service restorations implemented Saturday translate into a dip in Muni's on-time performance numbers because the agency is "definitely stretching resources."

The agency's staff presented a services standard scorecard (PDF) to the SFMTA Board today showing a drop in on-time performance this last quarter when compared to the same quarter last year, from 75 percent to 72.5 percent. Overall, the agency had an on-time performance over the entire year of 73.5 percent, a slight improvement from the previous year's 73.3 percent.

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