Muni approaches regular service after three-day worker 'sickout'

After three days of inconvenience to riders, no public support from city officials and labor leaders and legal charges from the city attorney, Muni drivers Thursday morning pulled back from their sickout action.

Muni service today is expected at 90 percent based on Thursday morning's pre-service data, with all lines, including cable cars, returned to their regular routes, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced. On a typical day, Muni aims to have 98 percent service, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. Service ran at 54 percent Monday, 61 percent Tuesday and 80 percent Wednesday.

“As an agency, we can't confirm the end of the sickout because no one has claimed organizing it,” Rose said. “All we can say is there's more service out on the streets than the past few days. While service is not completely back, it is improving.”

The morning commute saw 562 of 607 runs on the road and a total of 127 missed runs are projected for the entire day, though that could improve, Rose said.

The transit agency received 163 sick calls for Thursday, compared to 700 on Monday, 538 on Tuesday and 290 on Wednesday. As comparison, the numbers of sick calls on three days of a typical week, starting Monday, May 12, were 112, 94 and 99 respectively.

The sickout hit The City after members of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A rejected the new proposed contract by a 1,198-47 vote last Friday. Top pay for Muni operators is currently $29.52. The proposal would increase pay over two years to about $32 an hour and make them the second highest-paid transit workers in the country, but operators would pick up a 7.5 percent pension contribution the SFMTA currently fronts.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors denounced the action and called for an end to the sickout. City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations alleging the union encouraged its members to reject the proposed contract and call sick.

“As a city, we used all of our resources to get service back on the street and we feel that every little bit helped in that regard, or is helping,” Rose said.

BART continues to accept customers with Muni proof of payment traveling between the Embarcadero and Daly City stations. They are to request entrance with a BART agent at the gate instead of tagging their Clipper card.

A binding arbitration for the labor agreement is expected to take place Saturday.

“We'll continue to monitor attendance patterns to make sure that we can adjust service if need be,” Rose said. “But at this point, we're hoping that the worst is behind us.”

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