Letter No. 2 From a Muni Operator’s Wife
Photo by Flickr user catbagan
This week sure has seen an onslaught against Muni operators. First, we had the mayor slamming the TWU for not agreeing to a set of budget-reducing concessions. Then, on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors-commissioned audit of Muni found that excessive overtime and other employee behaviors are costing the agency (and thus by extension, you and me) millions of dollars. Though, it should be noted, not nearly enough to have closed a $28.8 million budget deficit.
Hell, even Tara had a post this week griping about a bus driver’s behavior.
So, what do things look like from the other side, from the driver’s seat, so to speak? This brings me to a letter we received a few weeks ago from a veteran Muni operator’s wife. This is the second letter we’ve received from the spouse of a Muni operator (read the first one here), wanting give their views on what it’s like to drive the bus here. We want to share with you some of the salient points of this most recent letter.
He was beaten up by 16 young thugs because he beeped the horn when he saw that they were dealing drugs in the middle of the street. … He has been threatened by crazies — once someone threatened him with a pink fluid in a jar, saying that it was acid and will burn him. He has been threatened by people who don’t want to pay, which is an everyday occurrence. Some of these people try to kick him or even spit on him because he does not give them free rides. …
He [has also] been a hero on some occasions — chasing purse snatchers, or those who snatched a gold necklace, protected passengers from violent strangers, returned many wallets with cash and credit cards fully intact in them and the passengers have been grateful.
Drivers have become scapegoats for the system. … The drivers’ union has also been a misunderstood topic: The union does not always protect the driver’s interests. Muni drivers also never got a bonus — just the interest earned back on the money drivers had already put in.
… There are far too many supervisors per division when we need more drivers. There are also people who are off for years on worker’s compensation. There needs to be furlolugh and paycuts across the board in city government — even the police and firefighters. But it seems like Muni drivers are unfairly targeted while firefighter and police are often regarded as heroes.
The management is trying to get the drivers on any and all little incidents even, handing suspensions left and right — trying to force them out on early retirement, or trying to get the older drivers fired so they can keep the newer drivers at a reduced pay. Or, if they are fired, they don’t have to pay retirement and they lose all they worked hard over the years for.
Muni definitely needs improvement and needs to stop waste at all levels(the whole city needs to do that, in fact). … Please, don’t take it out on the drivers — they are just trying to do their job like everyone else.
So, what do you think?