Looks like middle-schoolers wanting to skip gym class might not be the only ones needing a doctor’s note these days. In part due to unfulfilled threats made by an anonymous flier, which encouraged Muni workers to call in sick for four days in September to express dissent with management, the SFMTA’s added some new requirements for workers – from September 8 to October 15, Muni drivers who call in sick must provide a doctor’s documentation.
Although the union that represents 2200 Muni drivers, Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, claimed to not sanction the potential sick-out, recent changes to standby scheduling, work hours and recent service restorations has undoubtedly caused dissent between Muni management and the rank and file.
According to the SF Examiner, in the 15 months prior to the new doctor’s note policy, an average of 7.6 percent of Muni operators called in sick, compared to only 4.4 percent in the weeks after.
Whether this 42 percent drop occurred out of coincidence, or is directly correlated to the new policy, some city officials and directors of SFMTA have called it progress. “This shows management has become more efficient in maintaining a proper level of service for Muni customers,” Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said.
Elsbernd’s measure, Proposition G, which would overhaul the current system of hours, wages, benefits, and the terms and conditions of employment for the SFMTA, could also make doctor’s documentation a permanent practice.
John Haley, director of transit operations at the SFMTA, agrees that requiring physician’s proof, could be means to improving Muni service. “We never had a clear-cut and defined policy for sick-day leave,” he said.
Cable car operators boycotted the SFMTA’s annual cable car bell-ringing contest on September 28.
While Officials from the TWU have not commented on this new policy, “(i)t’s not fun to come into work anymore,” acting union president Rafael Cabrera told the Examiner the day of the bell ringing competition.
No word yet on if “work not fun” has been floated by any Muni drivers’ physicians to date.