Muni management, operators union reach tentative agreement

Muni management and its operators union have agreed to tentative labor agreements that will save the agency $21 million, although the deal must still be ratified by the union’s rank and file members — an approval that is far from a certainty.

For the past two months, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, and the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,000 transit operators, have been negotiating on contract provisions.

As part of the new pact tentatively agreed to, the SFMTA will now be able to hire some part-time operators, change overtime rules to specifically apply for time worked in excess of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, and eliminate a contract provision that allows nonlicensed operators to remain on the payroll. According to SFMTA spokesman Charles Goodyear, the changes will save the agency $21.3 million over the course of a three-year contract.

However, the tentative pact must still be ratified by the membership of the TWU. Last year, TWU leadership and SFMTA management agreed to two separate cost-saving measures that were rejected by the union’s workers, and thus never implemented.

Last November, voters passed Proposition G, an initiative that gives the SFMTA more power to bargain with the operators union. Prior to the ballot measure, the union’s work rules and pay rates — including the stipulation that its workers receive the nation’s second-highest pay rate in the industry — were enshrined in The City Charter and immune to bargaining.

The SFMTA originally projected $26 million in savings from its new contract talks with the union. Several proposed cost-savings measures, such as a 10 percent pay reduction, elimination of premium pay provisions and the cessation of paid lunch perks do not appear to be included in the SFMTA’s tentative agreement with the union.

The bargaining session between the operators and management featured several contentious moments, including a vote by the union to allow for a strike if negotiations deteriorated, and a federal complaint filed by the workers organization to stop the implementation of Prop. G. Strikes are implicitly barred in the union’s contract with the SFMTA, and the federal complaint against Prop. G could jeopardize $2 billion in funding for planned Muni projects.

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