Contract showdown on tap for Muni operators

The new year promises to open with a month of intense negotiations between San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency management and Muni operators.

The SFMTA, which manages Muni, has already established two special closed-door meetings — Jan. 11 and 25 — to discuss contract negotiations with the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents operators.

The agency’s existing contract with the union, which has about 2,200 members, expires June 30. The passage of Proposition G in November gives management more leverage to negotiate issues such as hourly wages, scheduling and benefits. Previously, operators were ensured automatic wage increases, with the total based on a formula that guaranteed them the second-highest pay in the country among their peers.

Along with contract talks, the union and management will meet in early January to discuss disagreements on the dispersal of cash payouts to the operators’ trust fund.

Every year, the SFMTA awards operators with about $3.5 million in payouts, and some of that cash goes toward an employee health care fund. This year, the SFMTA is refusing to make the payments to the operators.

In a letter to union officials, the SFMTA’s Debra Johnson said the agency is in a fiscal crisis and has exhausted all its reserves.

Walter Scott, secretary-treasurer for the union, said the trust-fund payouts are a part of the City Charter. He said the union would consider litigation if management does not allocate the payments.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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