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.