Muni’s plan to hire 95 part-time drivers to save cash under Prop G hasn’t worked out as planned. The current operator attrition rate at 12 per month, and Muni hasn’t been able to hire new drivers fast enough with the current students in the 8 week training course. TWU-250A’s president Eric Williams says a smeared reputation by SFMTA management and the media has made getting new operators difficult. Converting part-time drivers to full time has saved the agency money, $1.05m compared to running overtime drivers at $1.8m.
An arbitrator will now decide what the contract terms will be between the SFMTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 250A (transit operators), now that the TWU membership has rejected the proposed memorandum of understanding arrived at last week with the SFMTA. The SF Appeal and SF Weekly also have coverage.
We look forward to hearing the arbitrator’s decision. Under Prop G, the arbitrator must consider the impact of any decisions on the quality of service – a provision the union has bitterly fought. In addition to cost savings, the proposed contract contained provisions that should help service, specifically the option to add part-time operators to cover rush hour service; we shall see if the arbitrator agrees that these provisions are needed for more reliable transportation in SF.
The Transport Workers Union has submitted a letter to the Department of Labor demanding that federal funding for SFMTA projects be suspended, based on the claim that Proposition G illegally requires an arbitrator to prioritize “the public interest in efficient and reliable transit.”
This is clearly a negotiating tactic, but it could lead the feds to suspend over $4 billion in capital funding for Central Subway and major maintenance projects.
The Examiner reports that SFMTA management is negotiating with the TWU250A on how to fix the disciplinary process for operators. As it stands, operators who rack up too many citations in one particular area, such as accidents or drunk driving, are the only ones who are likely to get terminated. However, if an operator gets various citations in different kinds of violations, then the operator can slide under the radar and continue to drive.
One proposed cost-cutting measure is to eliminate leave-with-pay while the operator is under investigation. SFMTA consultant Charles Goodyear says that while the two sides have not agreed on a solution, talks are progressing well.