Elsbernd collects signatures for Muni operator resolution

Muni riders are not amused
Photo by Flickr user 37 °C

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is carrying through with his threat to take the issue of Muni operator pay (via SFGate) to the voters. Elsbernd will be out on Muni collecting signatures today on a measure to lower the floor on operator pay as a means of helping SFMTA balance its budget.

We see a lot of strong feelings about Muni operators here at Muni Diaries. Rescue Muni has come out for the amendment, while SF firefighters (via SF Appeal), for one, are against the amendment. Let us know what you think of the so-called Elsbernd amendment in the comments.

10 comments

  • Jerome

    Why don’t we just pay Muni drivers what everyone else gets paid — the amount their labor is valued at on the free market? In other words, we should pay what it takes to get enough quality drivers to run Muni. Why should the way MUNI determines how much it pays its workers be any different than how any other employer pays them?

  • To the extent that it is true that a clause in their contract says that they are guaranteed to get paid at at least the same level as the 2nd most well-paid drivers of public transit in the USA, that should get axed. Having a floor is one thing. Having a floor based on the costs of labor in a different city, with different kinds of transit, is arbitrary at best and highly inflated at worst.

  • To clarify, this charter amendment would NOT lower operator pay. What it will do is expand the scope of negotiations to include salaries and benefits, and add transparency to the process of establishing work rules (inefficient work rules are the real target of this legislation). All this amendment aims to do is to repair the collective bargaining process so that Muni passengers and San Francisco taxpayers get their money’s worth.

    To learn more about the campaign, visit FixMuniNow.com.

    • Thanks for the clarification. The amendment can be understood as a way for the agency (SFMTA) to save money in its attempt to close its budget deficit, no? But again, thanks for the “more info.”

      • It will absolutely help the long-term financial picture at Muni. Right now, because of the work rules, for instance, Muni cannot hire someone to work the morning and evening rushes without paying them for the time in between. And currently, if Muni operators, say, call in sick on Monday and Tuesday, and then works Wednesday through Saturday, the sick days count toward overtime, so even though they worked for four days, on that last day, they are paid time-and-a-half.

        These are just two examples of where inefficient work rules cost the MTA money with no gain for riders. In the face of the current budget crisis, the union was asked to voluntarily eliminate such inefficiencies, but they did not. This charter amendment will give city negotiators the collective-bargaining strength to establish more efficient work rules, which, yes, will absolutely have a positive effect on the MTA’s bottom line.

    • B

      @ Fix Muni

      Are you addressing the outrageous salaries that the MUNI management receive, as well?

      • I hear you — there are a whole range of improvements that can be made at the MTA, some at the ballot box, some internally, some in state law or at the Board of Supervisors; this legislation focuses very specifically on restoring collective bargaining to the negotiations with operators in order to address the horribly inefficient work rules currently on the books.

        We’re a grassroots campaign, so we are focusing on no more than we can handle at once — but that definitely doesn’t mean that there are no problems at Muni other than the wacky work rules and the lack of meaningful labor negotiations.

        • Astrian

          Best believe that the overtime the driver is paid is well earned! You guys really dont k ow what we as drivers go through on a DAILY BASIS! Being called everything but the child of God as well as being spit at, police not willing to have our back sufficiently. But they wanna mess with our pay? This why google , beer companies and other companies are getting driver that have come from muni… smh

  • This is a bit “meta” for a blog comment, but does anyone else find it amusing that we have a union here that is fighting to keep from setting compensation via collective bargaining, when the entire history of the labor movement is built on, in very broad strokes, the demand to allow collective bargaining in order to secure fair compensation and working conditions?

    For the record, I think that Elsbernd’s measure is long overdue, and I hope that it helps to, as FixMuniNow noted, repair the process. In any case, it’s a decent starting point.

  • Daishin

    I don’t think we should stop with the drivers. ALL Muni employees should be included in the pay cuts. If we paid them what they are worth, Muni’s payroll would drop dramatically.

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