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A Challenge to the MUNI Labor Leaders Who Stuck It To MUNI, the Public, and Proposition A Today....

I have a rule which is never to blog when I'm mad. It leads to all sorts of bad karma which I, and the cosmos, simply don't need.

So, when I read this little nugget about how the dispatchers and supervisors union decided to stick it to us today with a cute little "sickout" because they're not getting their 5.75% raise sooner than they wanted, well, the original post, well let's just say I composed a rather rabid post.

Cooler heads and a couple of pints at the Blackthorn prevailed and now, I am trying something new to stick up for us, the MUNI riders and us, the San Francisco taxpayers.

I am openly challenging Transport Worker's Union Local 200 President Glenda Lavigne to compose a short, concisely worded piece which I will publish in the alloted space to tell us, the taxpaying, MUNI riding public the following:

-Why this was such a great idea given that Proposition A is in trouble? Are you politically tone deaf or what?

-Why this was a good idea given that people compromised many reforms in proposition A to accommodate the union bosses' wishes, only to see that goodwill kicked in the face with this action?

-How their demands for more money and cushy rules benefit us, the MUNI riding public?

-And finally, why it is they think this kind of action is somehow going to benefit MUNI reform and make MUNI better? How are those of us who don't get automatic pay raises, union protection, and who pay the taxes that pay their big pay and pensions benefit from their selfish actions?

Rather than place blame or choose up sides, I'm offering a free space for Local 200 to speak up, justify their actions and engage in a free discussion with you, the readers at the N-Judah Chronicles. I'm sure that there's nothing Local 200 would like more than a free forum to talk to you directly - so I'm providing it. I'm sure the free exchange of ideas with you the MUNI rider and SF taxpayer will be most illuminating and informative.

Here's their response as of 10/18/2007:

If it's blank, keep returning to the site. I'm sure they're gonna respond any minute now!

Comments

I hope this torpedoes A.
As to TWU getting a forum GREAT!

TT I hear what youre saying, I guess you don't like proposition A and would like to see the transit workers unions speak out here (which they are always free to participate in, but apparently don't think talking to us citizens is worthy of their time.)

But I'm more than happy to hear what you'd do instead of A (which I agree wasn't a perfect measure).

I'd also be curious to know what you're willing to do to make that happen, since as far as I can tell, blogging didn't cure cancer or fix MUNI all by itself.


Seriously. and this goes for the MUNI unions. If you have a workable BETTER idea, then please, stop sitting on it and share it with us, the fare paying riders and citizens....don't hold out on us.

I'm curious troublemaker, what are your reasons for opposing Proposition A?

I would just like to know why the TWU Local thinks that "binding arbitration" is not binding.

I've always wondered why other cities have it right and we just can't cut the mustard. I was amazed in Seattle when I'd get on a bus and see- someone just like me, like bus driving was a fun career option- instead of (what seems like) a thankless bureaucratic over protected state job, like working in the DMV or a shelter, with out the warm fuzzies of do-goodery. As I rode the bus every day, and got chatting with the drivers, I'd realize what a fun job it is, hanging out with people, being in town all day, driving this awesome huge thing. Why do I never get that feeling on sf muni? I talk to the drivers the same, but usually the conversation drifts to retirement, inability to get to a restroom on time, or handling crazy people. Not to say its their fault, but something is wrong with the system for such discontent. I mean, these poeple seem seriously unhappy. And I'm not sure a union is the solution, because it's been the solution and it doesn't seem to be working. Less crazy people? I'm not saying that entirely in jest.

@Anna: one thing I would like to do is as much as we point out the 'bad guys' I would also like to celebrate some of the aweswome MUNI people who really work hard to serve the public. Case in point: the MUNI operator of the N who noticed that a bunch of us almost got mowed down by a gal driving a giant pick up truck. He got out of the train and told them the rule about stopping for passengers and NOT passing trains (they'd tried to pass the train by driving on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD) and made sure the old ladies could get off the train safely.

The problem is, right now a guy like that doesn't get any sort of recognition or boost, and I can see how someone might start to say F--K it and just phone it in.

Also, as I've said before, to balance the budget without making anyone unhappy, driver training and whatnot has been seriously cut. We also do great at cutting maintenance, but have no problem paying the unionized middle management big salaries.

Unions can be awesome organizations - having worked for some of the best, I can say that when they do what they're supposed to, it really is a good thing for everyone. When they do things that are totally selfish and don't give a damn about the folks they're supposed to be working for (i.e. we the citizens) then they can be kinda lame.

I don't accept your premise that labor is interested in Muni reform.

@mattymatt: But surely they are! After all they are supposed to be sticking up for the American Worker. Surely many of those workers take MUNI! One would simply assume that such vanguards of the workers class would be interested in helping the workers work, right? :-)

So without any manner of work rules reform, why is Prop. A a good idea? Greg, you promised us some manner of analysis, so how about it?

The proper thing to do with an outstanding MUNI employee is to call 311 (not that MUNI will actually follow up on any of this).

I don't doubt unions are useful, but MUNI's seems to stagnate into something unuseful. Just read Prop A- it sounds great. This post now makes sense to me too, ha. So now I'm wondering- what is Donald's vision for the city, a big non-pedestrian parking lot?

@Alex: well alex, as soon as this blog pays me full time, I'd be happy to spend more time writing more articles, but until then, Real Life and the Real Job take #1 precedence. If you'd like to pony up some subscription money or a grant so I can take time away from work, well you're more than welcome. Otherwise, I do what I can and if you aren't happy, you're free of course to submit something of your own. Such is the magic of blogs.

I've tried to get Yes and No on A people to contribute here but they have not yet returned any messages , and would rather talk to you via junk mail I guess. So be it.

Prop. A has significant changes - not as much as originally written, but the fact that you have some means you can always add more. Tossing it in the trash ensures that the status quo changes.

People in San Francisco love to complain and complain but are unwilling to make hard decisions or read anything more than a blog post and a comment. Everyone prides themselves on how enlightened they are - but really, SF is not that different from any one of America's west coast cities.

The only difference is here people LOVE to whine and complain, but also accept their situation and don't mind paying more money as things decline. Others see this and realize there's no money to be made making a better mousetrap - people in SF just love complaining about the mice.

@Anna: Folks could take a cue from you - rather than toss the voter pamphlet in the trash, you actually read the measure as an informed voter.

Now folks, plenty of reasonable people could read about it and say it's not the right way to go, but at least they'd have read it. Kind of amazing when you read the directions and make the system work as advertised.

Greg,

I dug around and found (and read) a copy of the proposed text of Prop A:

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/LT_Emissions%20Reductions%20and%20Transit%20Reform.pdf

Read up folks. I think that the pros and cons have been pretty well summed up, and I don't think there's a whole lot to add... except that it might be worthwhile to try and engage the Local 250 as well. Why? I suspect more than not wanting to pay, lots of people are going to vote against A to spite the union for stupid stunts like this.

I'm certainly not going to advocate a draconian quick fix we can put on autopilot. Tying our hands further won't fix things. Nor am I going to advocate some solution that purports to fix everything at once. Obviously the situation is far too complex for that.

I like the idea of Prop A, and I'm inclined to support it. However, Prop A does not (sufficiently) address two of the most significant underlying problems at MUNI: the extraordinarily lax work rules and the equipment procurement procedure.

Honestly, I think we're far better off without some of these people on the sickout. My commute was awesome yesterday (the J sucked, but it *always* sucks the most). Without the meddlesome supervisors the entire L route saw increased service.

@alex: awesome comment. this is the point of my site - I'm not the all knowing expert - it's a place to have everyone speak up and discuss.

I agree it's not as strong on the workplace reforms as many of us would like - but realpolitik kicks in. You could write a charter amendment that goes medieval on labor, but guess what? You'd have a huge, well funded and well-manned effort to destroy it. We'd all feel good about the wording of the amendment and it would not pass.

Measure A provides a pathway to future changes by setting a precedent and seeing if such changes have an impact. But not passing it simply because it does not pass the conservative purity test does nothign for anyone.

In the end, I personally do not care about ideology or who did what, I just want to be able to get to where I want to go and not have to make huge car, insurance and parking ticket payments in the process.

Greg,

You don't have to go medieval on labor. Simple things like allowing the bus tracking systems to be used to discipline an operator (e.g. operator took a 5 minute break at Starbucks and you can prove that the vehicle wasn't moving for a while) or becoming more stringent about punctuality.

Read over the contract(s) if you're curious:

http://www.sfmta.com/cms/aopp/agreements.htm

It's not a huge shock, but there are a lot of "may"s that should be turned into "will"s WRT discipline. Lots of stuff that shouldn't need to be legislated, and wouldn't if the BoS would grow a spine.

no one is suggesting anyone wants to go medieval on labor but they are getting tired of fare increases and service cuts that never seem to get fixed.

I'm sure the Board of Supervisors's spines are intact. It's too bad they have very little direct authority over the MTA - only the Mayor appoints board members, and all the Board can do is vote up or down the budget as a whole.

Perhaps if they were allowed to appoint some MTA board members, then they could do more. But they don't!

MTA directors whether appointed by the Mayor with concurrence of BOS or by BOS directly won't make much difference. Taking the example of the unauthorized five minute break at Starbucks, it was back when the BOS directly approved a union contract preventing management from using electronic tracking for supervision or discipline.
With friends like.....

And it was the spineless BOS who sabotaged a plan to speed up the 38 through the Tenderloin a couple years back.

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