Is a Rally for Transit on Tuesday a Rally for YOU, the Muni Owner/Rider, or a Rally for Something Else?
So I got an email from the SF "Transit Rider's Union" the other day, asking me to attend a rally on June 29th at noon at the Federal Building on behalf of "funding transit" with Rev. Jesse Jackson. Sounds great, right? More money for Muni, less cuts, yes?
A closer inspection of the flyer, however, indicates this may not be what it claims to be. Yes, the rally is in support of a bill that would free up federal funds to pay day-to-day costs for a short time, instead of paying for infrastructure. That flies in the face of decades of federal transportation policy, but given how bad things are nationally, some people see it as a solution. However, it's a very short term solution that once again makes our local Muni dependent on outside sources of money, and it's one that won't last long anyway.
Let's take a closer look at the group this group that claims to be pro transit rider - it's the TWU national and local, and ATU locals and nationals (another transit union that mostly represents BART workers). The flyer talks mostly about getting operators paid, and makes only a few concessions to those who ride transit.
Does anyone else see the irony in this?
We had a chance to roll back cuts, acting locally. If the TWU (the only union in the City that doesn't participate in collective bargaining and the only Muni union to avoid any hardship) had agreed to some short term give-backs, we could have rolled back recent service cuts.
If the Mayor could pull the flagpole out of his backside and stop blocking a rational, well-studied expansion of parking meters, we could have rolled back recent cuts. (Both packages ended up being about the same amount of money).
If we'd put aside our locally generated sense of greed and entitlement, and done BOTH, we could roll back even more cuts, or reduce monthly pass costs a little. Or something else sensible. Yes, these too are short term solutions, but it would have helped Muni do that whole "get owner/riders to their destination on time thing" better, and been a decent local stop-gap until a permanent local funding replacement for looted state operating funds could be restored.
Of course that didn't happen. The Mayor threw one of his patented hissy fit+fatwas aimed at anyone who suggestewd "parking meters" as a response to the crisis, and the TWU threw their own temper tantrum and literally said "the budget problems aren't our problem" in response.
Wow. This is the City That Knows How?
I'll repeat once more - driver pay is not the main cause of Muni's problems. But excessive, unplanned overtime is costing the agency millions of dollars it no longer has, and asking Muni operators to engage in collective bargaining is not unreasonable.
Public service unions, and in particular Muni's unions, have to understand that the great majority of us don't have pensions, do not have guaranteed pay and work, and are operating under extreme duress during Great Depression II. We are being forced to sacrifice more and more in the way of taxes, fees, fines, and fares, and get less and less service. Meanwhile, we see others who continue to be able to get paid not to do their jobs, or do them poorly (conduct which would get us fired in a minute) and screaming protests saying "give me more" begin to fall on deaf ears, even progressive ones.
More importantly, we seem to have a group that claims to be for us the Muni owner/rider, but at every opportunity, seems to think "working in coalition" with Muni unions means "do whatever they want because their union president is on our board. That is NOT what it means.
A true, honest, coalition means everyone helping each other in common cause and recognize that a functioning Muni that serves the owner/riders is the end goal - not just helping one pressure group over another for their own selfish ends. I believe it's possible for everyone to find some common cause on making Muni a world-class system, and I'm willing to work with anyone who wants that goal.
I do not, however, believe that the bullying tactics of extremist organizations and unions who tell me I have to accept higher fares and attacks on reasonable reforms serves anyone.
Until San Francisco's alphabet soup of groups and activists realize what true solidarity and coalition building mean, continue to watch as people claiming to be your friend are simply using you to prop up a few loud groups - all at your expense.