Elsewhere: SFMTA Reaches Tentative Labor Agreement with Muni Operators Union [Streetsblog], Muni reaches tentative contract with drivers [Chron], Muni management, operators union reach tentative agreement [Ex], Muni strike averted as a tenative contract deal is reached [SFBG], Muni Strikes a Money-Saving Deal with Operators — Finally [Weekly]

munipiece2.jpgAccording to an SFMTA spokesperson, the transit agency has reached a tentative agreement with the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A on a new contract for the union’s over 2,000 drivers. This agreement comes after three months of tense negotiations that saw unprecedented rivers of bad blood flowing between the two sides.

The new contract will allegedly save the cash-strapped agency at least $21.3 million over its three-year term. The agreement will freeze operators’ pay at current levels, allow the agency to hire approximately 200 part-time workers, redefine overtime as hours worked in excess of eight per day or 40 per week, lengthen the duration of a disciplinary investigation from two to six weeks, eliminate the jointly-operated Accident Review Board in favor of allowing Muni to appoint independent accident investigators and disallow non-licensed operators from remaining on the agency payroll.

These negotiations were particularly contentious because they came in the wake of last year’s passage of Proposition G.

Prop G changed the way SFMTA negotiated with the operators’ union, swinging more power into the agency’s hands through the elimination of the pay guarantee mandating Muni operators be the second highest paid of any domestic transit system.

Additionally, Prop G stated that if negotiations between the union and the agency failed to come to an agreement, the ultimate contract decision would be decided by an independent arbiter required to take into consideration how the final contract would affect service.

Union representatives felt these conditions would preclude them from receiving a favorable deal, so they sued the city of San Francisco in state Superior Court to invalidate the law, petitioned the Department of Transportation to prevent Muni from receiving federal funds if pay were reduced or benefits cut and had its members vote to allow a strike–even though such an action is explicitly forbidden by the city charter.

While Debra Johnson, SFMTA’s Director of Administration said, “these contract talks were tense but both sides acted professionally,” there’s some question over whether the latter was actually the case.

Mere hours after Charlie Goodyear, the external publicist SFMTA hired for the duration of negotiations, released his missive, the union sent out their own press release that had union president Rafael Cabrera chastising the agency.

“Part of our agreement with SFMTA was not to discuss the terms and conditions with the public until our members have had a chance to review the…[contract],” said Cabrera.

“It’s very disappointing that SFMTA’s outside media consultant Charles Goodyear has already violated the terms of our agreement with a detailed and inaccurate press release earlier today.”

So maybe the precise terms trumpeted by SFMTA aren’t the same ones that the union’s membership will be voting on come June 8th.

The agreement needs to receive a majority of the union’s membership in order to be ratified.

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