A Transit Ridersí Association for San Francisco
Box 190966, SF, CA 94119 ď 415/273-1558 ď www.rescuemuni.org
July 24, 2000
Michael Burns, Director
Larry Williams, Chief Labor Negotiator
San Francisco Municipal Railway
401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 334
San Francisco, CA 94102-4524
Dear Mr. Burns and Mr. Williams:
We understand that the members of TWU Local 250-A have voted to reject the proposed Memorandum of Understanding agreed to with Muni earlier this month. Since we expect further negotiations will be required, we would like to strongly recommend several changes that will make the contract more acceptable to the riders.
As co-sponsors of Proposition E, and also as riders and taxpayers, we are strongly concerned about several key elements of this draft agreement. Had it been presented as planned to the MTA Board of Directors, we would have strongly recommended its rejection there. This is because, in our opinion, it directly violates the Charter by failing to include proper merit pay provisions and by failing to properly account for the costs of the new wage levels. In addition, we would endorse its rejection based on certain other provisions that will make the Railway more difficult and expensive to manage.
1. Merit Pay
First and foremost, there appear to be no incentive programs for on-time performance or service delivery in this Agreement. (Other merit pay programs, while laudable, do not qualify.) This is a direct violation of City Charter section 8A.104 (m), emphasis ours:
Notwithstanding any limitations on compensation contained in Section A8.404, and in addition to the base pay established in collective bargaining agreements, all agreements negotiated by the Agency relating to compensation for Municipal Railway managers and employees in classifications designated by the Agency as "service-critical" [see below] shall provide incentive bonuses based on the achievement of the service standards in section 8A.103(C) and other standards and milestones adopted pursuant to Section 8A.103.
In addition to being in clear violation of the letter of the Charter, this is also in direct violation of its spirit. Many months were spent developing Proposition E in face-to-face talks involving all major parties to this agreement (Ray Antonio, Larry Martin, Larry Williams, and Michael Burns). There was crystal-clear agreement on the intent of section 8A.104(m): operators, managers, station agents, and other "service-critical" employees would all receive merit pay based on the achievement of various standards, including the two spelled out in the Charter, on-time performance and service delivery. Either there has been an oversight or this was intentionally omitted, but in either case Muni and TWU did not follow through on our agreement in this draft.
For Rescue Muni to recommend adoption of any draft agreement, merit pay provisions conforming to Charter section 8A.104(m) are absolutely required. We would be delighted to present to your staff some ideas on how this can be done in due course.
2. Salary Formula
We are also very concerned about the Railway's decision to provide a salary at the full Charter-specified formula for the four years that this contract is in force. While the Charter establishes a salary cap for transit operators (in section A8.409: the average wage of the two highest-paid transit systems in the United States, most recently Boston and Santa Clara), previous agreements have included an actual wage rate, which grows over time with the cost of living. The previous agreement included a base wage rate of $21.26 per hour ($13.40 for trainees). Based on news reports, we would guess that the new base wage rate is $22.45 per hour (a 5.6% raise), but this is not spelled out in the agreement.
Our concern here is one of fiscal responsibility. While we strongly endorse paying a competitive wage to Muni operators, it seems foolish not to establish a base wage rate that can be used for planning. If the Santa Clara VTA were to give its employees a massive raise during the term of this contract, Muni would have no choice but to reflect this in the base wages of operators - whether or not Muni could afford it.
This may or may not have a large impact on Muni's budget (or fares), but the analysis included with the MOU draft ignores it, noting instead that "an assessment of the total incremental cost of the Tentative Agreement is subject to the completion of the Base Wage Rate analysis." We do not believe that this is sufficient information for the Director, or the Agency board, to approve this MOU.
This lack of complete information may also violate the Charter. The Charter specifies, in section 8A.104(p), that "the Agency shall, at a duly noticed public meeting, disclose in writing the contents of such tentative agreement ... and an analysis of all costs for each year of the term of such agreement." (Emphasis ours.) In our opinion, the analysis submitted to the Agency board by Muni staff does not meet this requirement, as the potentially major cost impact of this item has not yet been made clear. Agreement on an actual wage rate would solve this problem.
Again, we strongly urge Muni to establish an exact wage rate that can be revised each year as needed. We believe that this is required by the Charter, and itís also good business practice.
We are also concerned that, by agreeing to pay higher premiums under certain conditions, Muni may be agreeing to increased costs without significant productivity enhancements.
In particular, Muni and TWU have agreed to the following increases in premiums paid to operators:
|night duty||6.25% base pay||7.5% base pay||4.5|
|holiday pay||1.5x run pay||2.5x run pay||9.3|
While we endorse paying a sufficient premium to attract employees to difficult work, we are very concerned that these premiums will provide a further disincentive providing sufficient service on nights and holidays, and we also fear that they will make it more difficult to reassign employees to unfilled or late runs on the fly, thus making service less reliable. We would like to see a full justification from Muni staff and Union leadership of how these changes will make service more reliable and cost-effective.
We also frankly do not understand what the "Headway Premium" is. The language in the MOU is as follows:
"Any operator missing a headway for two or more hours for two consecutive days or more, shall receive a premium of $2 per hour for the actual time so worked, commencing on the second day."
We cannot imagine that Muni has agreed to pay premiums to operators who run late - we think this must mean that the premium is to be paid when an operator's leader has been out for two days, but the language is ambiguous and open to misinterpretation. We urge you to write clearer language on this point. In addition, this sounds to us like an operational nightmare: the amount of staff time used to calculate the headway premium will be quite substantial, and of course many grievances will result.
We would also strongly recommend that some or all of these premiums be replaced by merit pay based on meeting the service standards established recently by the MTA. (The Expert Operator Premium is a step in the right direction here, but it is only available to operators with five years' experience.) Isn't it better to reward good service?
4. Other Issues of Concern
There are several other areas in which we are concerned that Muni management has given up flexibility. These include:
5. Comments on Union Membersí Objections
Many members of Local 250A have raised objections to certain provisions in the contract concerning absenteeism and sick leave policies. Two in particular are:
Rescue Muni fully supports the objective of these provisions, which is to reduce absenteeism and its impact on the schedule, and also to reduce the abuse of sick leave. We share managementís concern that the old system could be abused by operators who work regular days off or holidays and then falsely claim to be sick on another day, thereby collecting overtime when this is not justified. Clearly, this abuse needs to be eliminated, if it occurs. However, union members have noted that operators who are legitimately sick or injured would be hurt by this provision; if this could be modified to prevent abuse while allowing those who are legitimately sick to take time off as needed, we would support that.
6. Areas of Improvement
We recognize that there are significant areas of improvement in this Agreement that will make service more reliable and responsive to customers' needs. We support the following modifications in the Tentative Agreement:
However, we do not feel that these improvements outweigh the significant problems with the Interim Agreement described above.
Rescue Muni urges you to work with Union leadership to resolve these key issues (as well as issues raised by the Union membership). Again, we believe that you are required by the Charter to address at least the first two issues in this letter, and we will not support its adoption by the Board unless at least these two issues are resolved. In addition, we would urge you to recommend improvements in areas such as premiums and work rules to improve customer service and reliability. We would be willing to provide specific recommendations to both parties, particularly in the area of merit pay, if that would be useful.
Thank you very much.
Chair, Rescue Muni Steering Committee
cc: 	Lisa Mancini, Chief Operating Officer, Muni
Larry Martin, International Vice President, TWU; Ray Antonio, President, TWU Local 250A
MTA Board of Directors; MTA Citizensí Advisory Council