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A Quick Follow Up to Yesterday's Delays AKA Why Does Kavai Muao-Harris Hate Us So Much?

Although I managed to get a short post out before I headed off to a seminar I was running for the day job, I couldn't do any follow up, as the many Twitter DMs, emails and reactions piled up to yesterdays unauthorized labor action by MUNI employee Kavai Muao-Harris, who decided it would be awesome to screw everyone's commute in the morning by throwing a temper tantrum and blocking the buses from leaving.

From my own observations, as well as that of those attending our seminar, there was a definite ripple effect for a good part of yesterday with delayed and crowded buses, and so on. Reading the news coverage of this little escapade, however, is something that easily gets ones blood to boil.

First, the reason for this chidish act was over some stupid assignment for the day's work. Now, if this person had blocked the buses because they were rolling deathtraps, unsafe for passengers, that would have been ok since that would have been protecting the safety of people who use MUNI.

However, for someone who's job is not only to work for us, the owners and riders of MUNI, but also to act as a union negotiator, to pull a stunt like this over something this small is bullsh*t. In the end it was not MUNI management who got screwed - it was anyone who has to be at work on time in the morning (i.e. the owners and riders of MUNI).

I can't stress this enough. I am tired of being told we are "customers." We are not. We own the system, it is ours, and yes it has problems and sometimes the management needs a kick in the backside to get things right. That does not change the fact that the ultimate responibslity of everyone at MUNI is to work for our benefit, not their own. That's the definition of working in the "public sector."

I guess what's most galling is that of course, this person wasn't fired. Now, imagine if you, at your job, did something equally as dangerous to your company's operations over something equally as trivial. Would you get paid adminstrative leave and a long investigation that may or may not involve some sort of punishment? No, you'd get fired in a minute.

Likewise, in this economy, being late to work is a great way to get fired. If anyone lost their job because of this action taken, frankly, they oughta sue this person for lost wages. I sure would.

Finally, there's this gem from Irwin Lum. You remember him as the guy who fought in court to make sure the public didn't know who the few rotten MUNI drivers were. He's the guy that runs the union that never seems to celebrate the awesome drivers who make our day and make the system run right.

“We are still investigating the situation as to what led to this incident,” Lum said. “We would like to apologize to the public for any inconvenience that they may have incurred.”

"May" have ocurred? Are you frakking kidding me? This is as hollow an apology as one could offer. News flash, Irwin: if you want us to take your side in your disputes with MUNI management, why don't you start by trying to show us why we should? Why instead do you keep on defending bad apples like Kavai Muao Harris and a few bad drivers, and instead try and get MUNI to reward the good ones?

Then of course, in the Chron article he did offer a bit more insight:

(Lum) said there is growing frustration among the ranks of Muni employees that goes way beyond the beef over seniority. Not only are employees feeling that management's treating them with a lack of respect and dignity, he said, but morale is plummeting due to the agency's budget constraints, with funding hits coming from the state and a raid of Muni coffers by other city departments.

Well, duh. We've been talking about these issues for years. Helpful hint: why doesn't your union join with Everyone Else Pissed Off at Green Gavin and Green Arnie who've been sticking it to MUNI and MUNI's owners (us) all this time?

Maybe when Green Gavin asks you to endorse his campaign for governor you say "no"? Or maybe, just maybe, why don't you stop looking at all of us as your adversaries and realize we have more in common than we don't. Better yet, kick people who endanger the system for petty disputes to the curb. None of us needs 'em and the bad will they generate across town.

I'm not holding my breath. I think as the economy and governments circle down the drain, no one really cares about anyone else these days. So, the next time these clowns cry wolf, I won't be rushing to help 'em out, even if a "wolf" is really there that time.

Comments

The part that frosts my cookies is this (from the KTVU article):

"True did not know of any charges being pressed against the woman."

MUNI vehicles are emblazoned with stickers proclaiming that it's a crime to interfere with the operation of MUNI. Why isn't this woman hit with a citation and fine?

As a rider, I think the seniority based assignment is terrible. The most challenging routes go to those with the least experience.

Gah. This is why I've started taking BART more often.

I saw this and was outraged. Having just lost my job, I don't have to ride Muni so much anymore, but I've been a daily rider for nearly 13 years now. It's astonishing to me the complete disregard for the people of this city that this person showed. Very annoying.

I guess I have come to accept this sort of thing as part of San Francisco -- overall we're a quirky and sometimes maddening town. Our liberal do-no-harm attitude creates a sense of entitlement in many.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if an imaginary SF mayor or MTA chief would pull a Ronnie Reagan on Muni and fire them -- all of them, only to rehire a new set of people under different terms. Of course, we will never vote someone into office who would (or could) do that. Overall, that's probably a good thing. But it does seem to make the task of "cleaning up Muni" impossible.

Re: "customers" - I have seen this complaint about being called a "customer" come up in other context as well. This terminology comes about not because MUNI thinks they are selling you a product and you are buying it. The term comes about through various best practices systems that use to term to designate a position of a particular set of people within a process. There is one for IT service desks called ITIL and the "customer" terminology is used throughout to designate the person that picks up the phone and calls about an issue. More than likely that is why the "customer" terminology has been picked up here as well. The problem is that outside of the context it has a different meaning altogether that people find distasteful or demeaning. I mean, technically we are the customers to a doctor as well but we would bristle if they called us that instead of a patient. The problem, of course, is that the term starts to get misused internally by those lower down the organizational chair that don't understand or know that the term is part of a best practices designation and then people within start to misuse and also view it as the wrong terminology: i.e. that you are a customer buying something from them.

She needs to go, as well as her manager who could towed the car in seconds. Imagine any other company's response to a rush hour stunt, would she try clogging: SF Intl Airport jetways, NFL playing fields, UPS truck lanes, PG&E transmission lines: this employee shld have walking papers by 5PM today. Once again, Muni kisses her....

Voters need the equivalent of a Union because this Kavai Muao-Harris is beginning to remind me of acting out of Deborah Edgerly. Running for Gov? First try standing up to small time actors.

Ms.Harris will be put on unpaid-admin leave today. That means Muni is going for dismissal.

Great news sfsmskater - any updates a week later?

I have to say that this article is down right rediculous. I feel sorry for those people who were late to work or to an appointment. Now take a moment and think about your job what if you as a manager had employees who felt like they were not getting their fair justice and you were the only one who is able to make a stand. Would you be a coward and run and leave them to hang and hate you or be a leader and stand and fight beacuse not only are you fighting for them but you are also fighting for yourself with in the company. Before you get to slamming a person get all of your Freaking facts straight. Your such a pissed off reporter you forgot to actually do the investigating. In the future save your money and buy a damn car.

Keyshauna, thanks for your comments. We appreciate your valuable input. Now, a few things:

-First off, learn to spell. It's "ridiculous."

-Second, what do you mean by "fair justice?" This was at best a minimal situation and would have been better corrected through other means. When you folks stick it to MUNI you are sticking it to every single one of us who pay the taxes and the fees and the fares that pay YOUR salary and that of every MUNI employee.

If you don't like how MUNI is run, put something on the ballot and change how it's run. If it makes MUNI better for workers and riders, we'll vote for it. Heck, it's not like MUNI management is winning any popularity contests with us either.

However, it's clear in your comments you really don't care about making MUNI better , or care about any of us who work at jobs where we don't get protection when WE screw up at work when you say things like "In the future save your money and buy a damn car."

Really classy, hon. Instead of making us the enemy, why not talk to us and show us why these things affect service and safety? How about some solidarity and civility WITH us, instead of your screeching crap AGAINST us hardworking taxpayer citizens?

I will continue this blog, whether you like it or not, you and your bullies can threaten me all you like, I'm NOT backing down.

And you're really an insult to the majority of MUNI employees, like this one on the 44 today who really cares about the passengers and citizens who own MUNI (http://twitter.com/njudah/status/1270921643 ). You could learn something from that guy and all the other GOOD people in Our City.

If you people hate muni so much, why don't you just drive a car. Quit complaining. Many things in this city suck.

@jacky: clearly you're a troll or a union member, since if you actually read the site you'd know this is not a bitch blog.

Accepting failure is conceding to those who revel in mediocrity. So shut the fuck up and take that back to your buddies, dude.

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