Odds Stacked Against S.F. Transit Operators in Talks, Union Leaders Say

By Bryan Goebel : kqed – excerpt

San Francisco transit riders were caught by surprise last week when Muni operators staged a three-day sickout. But the wildcat action was foreshadowed in the campaign four years ago against a voter-approved initiative that required collective bargaining but stripped some of the union’s power to negotiate.

“At this point, the wall is so high in negotiations that we cannot get over it because it’s an unfair process,” said Eric Williams, president of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 operators.

In a sign the sickout might have given the union some leverage, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency late last week agreed to meet with a mediator instead of an arbitrator. Union leaders had accused the agency of forcing talks into arbitration, where the odds are stacked against them.

Under Prop. G, approved by nearly 65 percent of San Francisco voters in 2010, arbitration is triggered when negotiations reach an impasse. In arbitration, the measure puts the burden on operators to prove their labor proposals prioritize Muni service and serve the public interest. Otherwise, the rules favor the SFMTA’s proposals.

“That is not negotiating. That’s dictating the system,” said Williams. “What kind of bargaining is this?”…

Proposition G

Prop. G, sold as a way to “Fix Muni Now,” was pushed primarily by former Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and Supervisor Scott Wiener and endorsed by a number of groups, including the San Francisco Urban and Planning Research Association (SPUR). They cautioned the measure alone wouldn’t fix Muni, but get rid of inefficient work rules and rein in labor costs that the SFMTA said forced a service cut of 10 percent…

“This anti-worker language made Prop. G a more divisive measure and created a lot of the distrust we’re now seeing from the Transport Workers Union,” said Supervisor John Avalos during a debate last Tuesday on a resolution calling on Muni operators to go back to work. “Prop. G was sold to the voters as ‘fix Muni now,’ but we all know it didn’t fix Muni.”… (more)

As we know the SFMTA has been way to busy placating the contractors and Bike Coalition to solve the problems they were given to solve with the Muni. It is time to more on and declare Prop E a big mistake. We need a full-time dedicated Muni Board that does nothing but run Muni. We need to quit spending money on everything but Muni until we get the Muni working.

Can the new 3-foot safety law be enforced?


The hope is that the Three Feet for Safety Act will make roads safer for cyclists. 

State Assm. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, knows firsthand what it’s like to be hit on a bike.

“I’ve been hit three times by motorists that never once hit the brake after knocking me off the bike,” he said.

Bradford wrote the Three Feet for Safety Act hoping to make roads safer for cyclists.

“This bill just establishes a three foot buffer,” Bradford said. “If in fact it’s not safe to pass, the driver just has to slow down to a reasonable speed and then pass when the cyclist is deemed not in danger.”

Cyclists we talked to welcome the new law.

Many drivers, on the other hand, say the new rule is virtually impossible to follow, especially on crowded streets.

Some are concerned they might get dinged for a ticket, if a cyclist veers into that buffer zone. Drivers who break the law will get a $35 ticket, and if they hit a cyclist, the fine jumps to $225.

There are no fines for cyclists who get too close to cars.

ABC7 News wanted to show why a three-foot buffer may not work in a busy city such as San Francisco. So, we rigged a car with cameras, and noted the distance with a yardstick. Then we drove around the city. It was very difficult to stay 36 inches away from a bike and remain in our lane. Under the new law, we’d have to follow behind for blocks, and that could cause some serious traffic congestion.

Then we marked busy Market Street with chalk at one-foot increments to see how hard it would be to measure three feet. But without some kind of guide, it was tough to tell just how close a cyclist got to a car. So we wondered how could police would be able to tell?… (more)

We support the emergency responders who are requesting wider lanes. You can’t make the streets more narrow and then expect a 3 foot safety zone. If you want safer streets, keep the lanes wide to allow for 3 feet between vehicles in separate lanes. We also support a more balanced transportation system and are helping gather signatures for the Restore Transportation Balance ballet initiative. http://www.restorebalance14.org/