SF Examiner file photoMoving target: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

SF Examiner file photoMoving target: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Muni savings outlook hits bumpy road

Those labor savings from Muni’s historic contract negotiations with its operators union might not be so historic after all.

Last summer, the two sides engaged in contentious contract talks that nearly ended when the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators, threatened to strike. Thanks to Proposition G, an initiative passed by voters in 2010, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency had unprecedented leverage to negotiate the operators’ work rules and salary stipulations, which had long been enshrined in the City Charter and were immune to bargaining.

When the talks were over, the SFMTA, which operates Muni, claimed that the new operators contract would save roughly $13.7 million a year — a crucial component in helping the agency overcome a two-year budget shortfall of $80 million.

However, the SFMTA recently revised the contract savings in its upcoming two-year budget to project just $5.8 million in annual savings — or $17.4 million over three years.

That doesn’t include the $8 million the agency doled out last week to the union for back pay owed to the operators’ health trust fund. When that total is subtracted, the agency is really only set to enjoy $9.4 million in labor savings over three years — a 77 percent reduction from what was originally touted.

Jamie Horwitz, a TWU spokesman, said the SFMTA was never going to be able to achieve the savings it claimed from the new operators contract.

“We said from the beginning that the SFMTA was wildly overstating its savings,” Horwitz said. “These new budget numbers reflect that.”

The projected savings from the operators contract has fluctuated since the two sides began negotiations in April. Originally, the SFMTA forecast $26 million a year in reduced labor costs from the new contract. Those projections were downgraded to $7 million in May. When the talks were completed in June, the SFMTA said the new contract would save $41 million over three years.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the agency still plans on achieving those savings — it just can’t factor them into its upcoming two-year budget until new efficiencies are put in place. Only a few of the cost-saving measures established by the summer contract negotiations — which include everything from adding part-time drivers to eliminating “operator of the month” bonuses — have yet been implemented.

“We are currently laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable work rules that will allow for a better overall transit system,” Rose said via email.

However, the SFMTA frequently budgets cost-saving or revenue-generating proposals before they’ve actually been implemented.

For this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, the agency projected to generate $7 million from enforcing a long-dormant garage parking ordinance. After the budget was passed, that effort was dropped, which helped contribute to the agency’s current $28 million shortfall.

Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR and one of the authors of Prop. G, said contract savings weren’t the sole purpose of the initiative — the ultimate aim is to speed up Muni and improve the labor-management culture at the agency.


Roller-coaster ride

The SFMTA’s projected labor savings from its new contract with the operators union has fluctuated wildly. Here is a look at the various projections at certain dates this year.

Date            Projected Annual Savings
4/13/11        $26 million
5/31/11        $7 million
6/13/11         $13.7 million
11/14/11        $5.8 million

Source: SFMTA

Bay Area NewsLocalMuniSan Francisco Municipal Transportation AgencyTransittransportation

Just Posted

ose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014. 
Rose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014.
Willie and Rose: An alliance for the ages

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

City officials have informed the owners of El Farolito, a legendary taqueria that started in the Mission District, that they cannot open a new location in North Beach due to rules against “formula retail.” (Gil Duran/SF Examiner)
Free El Farolito! San Francisco’s North Beach burrito ban must not stand

San Francisco reaches new level of absurdity with ban on famed burrito spot

San Francisco supervisors are considering plans to replace trash cans — a “Renaissance” garbage can is pictured on Market Street — with pricey, unnecessary upgrades. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco must end ridiculous and expensive quest for ‘pretty’ trash cans

SF’s unique and pricey garbage bins a dream of disgraced former Public Works director

Giants right fielder Mike Yastrzemski is pictured at bat on July 29 against the Dodgers at Oracle Park; the teams are in the top spots in their league as the season closes. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
With playoff positions on the line, old rivalries get new life

Giants cruised through season, Dodgers not far behind

Golden Gate Park visitors may take a survey about options regarding private car access on John F. Kennedy Drive, which has been the subject of controversy during the pandemic.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

Host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park proposed

Most Read