Muni transit operators are considering whether to authorize a strike if ongoing labor negotiations reach an impasse, a scenario that could leave hundreds of thousands of passengers without a public transportation service in San Francisco.
This Friday, the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 transit operators, will begin a seven-day voting process that could allow the organization’s management to call a strike. If approved, the initiative would allow TWU Local 250-A president Rafael Cabrera to authorize a work stoppage, in which the operators would refuse to report.
Under The City Charter, no public workers are authorized to strike, but Walter Scott, secretary-treasurer for the union, said the legal aspect of that provision is a gray area, and one that could be tested. Scott pointed out that other parts of The City Charter, including the stipulation that operators receive annual payments for their health trust fund, have not been honored by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni.
The operators union and SFMTA management are engaged in historic labor negotiations, made possible by the passage of Proposition G, a voter-backed initiative that gives the agency unprecedented leverage to bargain with its transit drivers.The agency says it can achieve $26 million in savings from the negotiations.
Scott said that the union would seek a work stoppage if labor negotiations with management “go south.”
Charles Goodyear, spokesman for the SFMTA, said that Proposition G set up an arbitration system specifically aimed at preventing work stoppages. He said any authorization to strike would be unnecessary and unwarranted.
“We’re looking to find common ground with the union and a strike authorization vote isn’t in the best interest of that goal, and it does no service to Muni’s passengers,” said Goodyear.