There are reasons why there’s a shortage of Muni operators

By Roger Marenco : sfexaminer – excerpt

It’s true, there is a shortage of Muni operators, but this is not the fault of the operators.

If we look at some of the reasons why there are so many “not out” lines within the system, we can begin to understand the basic reasons why there is a shortage of operators…it used to take a newly hired operator 18 months to reach top pay, but now it takes a newly hired operator 48 months to reach the maximum rate of pay…. many of the newly hired operators are only hired part-time, even though, in my opinión, full-time runs should be filled first….

Some of the other issues that cause a shortage of are:
1. The notion that the operator is always wrong.
2. The lack of safety and security for the operators.
3. The tremendous decline in the morale of the operators…

For the moment, the important thing to try and grasp is that we are working on trying to bring forth many small changes to the many different problems that we are facing and keep in mind that OVERSET FOLLOWS:the shortage is NOT the fault of the Operators… (more)

Roger Marenco is president of Transport Workers Union Local 250A.

Read the article and see why you think there is a shortage of Muni drivers.

Muni suffering major citywide service gaps due to operator shortage

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni is suffering a major citywide slowdown.

An operator shortage has left scheduled buses sitting still at Muni yards, engines cold. Those “not outs,” Muni operator-slang for a bus or train “not out in service,” have caused drastically long wait times for service across San Francisco for months, public data obtained and analyzed by the San Francisco Examiner shows.

On any particular weekday almost a hundred buses — ones meant to run — sit unused due to a lack of operators. The usual lines for downtown buses have grown into crowds. Lucky riders find themselves packed ever-closer to their fellow passengers while unlucky riders see full-to-the-brim buses pass them up outright.

Riders have seen wait times lag on the most crucial commuter lines: 48 minute waits on the 1BX, 24 minute waits on the 38-Geary, 27 minute waits on the 1-California. Major slowdowns have hit all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, from rich to poor, cutting across all of the diverse populations that rely on Muni for work and school… (more)

For some time people have been suggesting SFMTA slow down street construction projects and emphasize improving Muni service and operations. Have we reached the point where this may be the best solution?

This is not a problem of cash flow or shortage of funds. This is a problem of SFMTA priorities and policies not meeting the goals and needs of the public. As the public loses confidence in Muni service and reliability they are turning to private vehicles, ride-hails and other transit options. Perhaps this is the goal of SFMTA. Perhaps they want to turn over the public transit system to the corporate giants who are clamoring to take it over.

Why Muni can’t find good drivers

By sfexaminer – excerpt

There’s a simple explanation for why buses and trains in San Francisco are often late or never show up.

There’s not enough people to drive them.

The San Francisco Municipal Railway has had a chronic shortage of qualified transit operators for several years, which contributes to late or missed runs as well as mounting overtime spending, according to city documents and interviews.

There are about 1,500 transit operators at Muni, which carries about 700,000 passengers a day on the agency’s buses, light-rail vehicles and cable cars.

There should be more.

As of Wednesday there were 266 unfilled operator positions, agency spokesman Paul Rose said, an “ongoing issue” that the SFMTA is trying to correct with a “training surge.”

Muni plans to add training staff and send operators through the training process more quickly, Rose said.

Last week, Muni graduated 25 new operators to full employee status. However, the hundreds of other open jobs have no takers for several reasons: pay, commuting and an ever-tougher working environment, according to interviews with drivers and union officials…

Muni drivers make more than their counterparts in Oakland and San Mateo County, but less than bus drivers in San Jose.

In any event, the starting wage of $18.60 is low by Bay Area standards — San Francisco’s minimum wage could be $15 by 2018 — and the $29.53 maximum hourly salary does not go far in The City…

At the end of May, Muni operators soundly rejected an offer from the SFMTA that would have seen hourly wages rise to over $32 an hour, which would make them the second-highest-paid transit operators in the country.

That offer was coupled with increased employee contributions to pensions, which would have led to a cut in take-home pay, union officials say…. (more)

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.