UPDATED: WTF? Details, Please: TWU Told Cable Car Operators NOT To Participate in 48th Annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest???

Aside from this tweet from KCBS News Radio, alerting us that apparently the TWU leadership told cable car operators to not participate in today’s Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest, a tradition that dates back almost 50 years.
I’m trying to find out more information aside from this tweet, but I’m coming up with nothing and I don’t have time to take Muni down to Union Square. So any links would be appreciated.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by the brain-dead antics of TWU’s leadership, which not only make them look foolish, they are hurting their members with their poor ability to lead. At this rate, if Prop. G doesn’t pass in a mega-super landslide and ONLY a landslide, I’ll be surprised.
UPDATE: Here’s Barbara Taylor’s report, and what’s interesting is that the people not participating said that the union bosses told them not to, but when asked, the union bosses claimed they had nothing to do with it.
One of these statements is true, one is not. How are we to find out which is which?
This ruined a nice, fun thing, that was free of politics and the usual craziness associated with Muni. And now the TWU leadership decided if they don’t get to dictate terms to Muni’s owners (you) and get everything they want at the expense of service, they’re going to throw a tantrum. FAIL.

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8 Responses to UPDATED: WTF? Details, Please: TWU Told Cable Car Operators NOT To Participate in 48th Annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest???

  1. Sam Foster says:

    Is it possible that the “union rep” mentioned by the one operator in the sfgate article (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/29/BAFV1FL1MD.DTL) caused this idiocy to take place?
    As much as it pains me to think this, perhaps the union leadership didn’t know and it was “middle management” who took a wildcat option? I’m not sure how TWU is set up but I’d think that all the cable car operators would likely report up through a small group of reps?
    If that’s the case, we, the Muni owners, have an even bigger problem with TWU leadership being out of touch AND union reps being out of control…yikes!

  2. david vartanoff says:

    “plausible deniability” no different from “leaks” from a “senior official” or any other mendacious arrangement. TWU gives riders the middle finger and then wonders why we are angry. If there were a voter referendum to decertify them, it would win in a landslide.

  3. Greg Dewar says:

    while I’ve been told by many people at Muni there has been a serious employee morale problem for some time now (and not just with drivers), this kind of “FU” and ruining what should be a politics free event with petulant whining about paying for parking is lame.
    Watching the piece on KPIX, I was just stunned at how brain dead their PR is. They started literally yelling about how “Oh that cable car that’s stalled that’s not our fault blah blah blah” which, ok fine, whatever, but screaming about it made them look just stupid.
    The fallout from all of this is going to be years of mistrust between drivers and the public. Funny how some “transit rider unions” in town INSIST they get representation on the board of their groups. Remember that next time you hear about one in the news.

  4. anonymouse says:

    If we are to have a real transit riders’ union, it needs to be able to take action, preferably on a scale that makes people notice. Why not a strike? Everyone stops taking Muni for a week or even a day and instead drives, walks, bikes, etc. They still need our fares to keep running the system and paying the drivers after all.

  5. Greg Dewar says:

    @anonymouse: plenty of people have tried a “transit strike “and it NEVER EVER works. Unless you have a population that will willingly not ride the bus (Think the Bus Boycott in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement), the spectre of empty buses rolling along won’t happen. Also, it’s self defeating.
    Plus, the number of cars you’d put on the road would shut down the city – there simply is no room for that many cars, and not everyone can ride a bike.
    However, this doesnt mean there aren’t more creative ways to protest poor management practices at muni, TWU stupidity, etc. I mean, what if a flash mob jammed the customer service center and got it on TV? Or, some other call to action that gets people to take ownership of their system?
    The SF TRU will never succeed because they’re trying to organize like the Bike Coalition, and that model doesn’t work with Muni owner/riders. People who ride a bike live a whole lifestyle around it – Muni riders do not to the same, nor do they really care in the end – they just want to go where they wanna go. That’s not to say it isn’t possible to create one – trust me I studied this for years – but in SF, where the politics of feelings drive our decisions, and you have loud extremists who get all the attention from City Hall and the media, it ain’t easy.

  6. anonymouse says:

    Greg, just one thing I’d like to disagree with: people who ride bikes by and large… ride bikes. People who ride bikes and also organize bicycle coalitions tend to build lifestyles around biking and bike-coalition-organizing. The small but vocal segment is enough to get something done. The same goes for Muni, but the dynamics are different because there’s a lot more people riding Muni overall, and the small but vocal segment is still the same size, which makes it an even smaller proportion. And because “everybody” rides Muni, the vast majority of riders are apathetic, whereas I suspect the vast majority of cyclists feel like they’re in a minority and are vaguely sympathetic to at least the idea of a bike advocacy organization, even if they think the local one in particular is a bit kooky.
    As for the strike thing, well, it’s not much of a union then is it? To have a union, you really need a high percentage of the group you’re representing as members, and you need to be able to have that whole group take concerted action. Like shutting down the city with a traffic jam when everyone decides to drive instead of take Muni. Otherwise it’s just an advocacy group and there’s never been any shortage of those around here. If I were actually organizing a Riders’ Union, my goal would be to have the capability for a strike, and while working toward that, I’d try to get some planning expertise so as to be able to make detailed and realistic counter-proposals when Muni wants to cut service.

  7. Greg says:

    @anonymouse: what you will run in to (as I concluded three years ago) that will hurt things the most is not getting lots of people to join to do a “strike” (the point of which eludes me since I think there are better ways to make a point), is the “San Francisco Way” which involved the extremists trying to hijack anything to make it fit their narrow agenda, and the inherent mushy-headed thinking that infects people here.
    Case in point; SF TRU. The fact is that this groups has more or less decided to be a “Progressive” organization. Notice how they insist on includuing TWU in their board leadership, but they don’t have any west side representation, no representation of small business, downtown, or property owners (All of whom have an interest in good transit too) and so on. The group is more or less going to be a collective that will always have to pass a political test to make decisions.
    Likewise, the front group created by left wing radicals and TWU is just a sham created by the ANSWER Coalition and TWU. ANSWER could give two shits about transit – they just like to hijack stuff to make people like them more.
    NYC’s union works because of several reasons: most people take some form of transit (subways, ferries, buses) at least a few times a week, the group has been getting funding from NY PIRG, and gives people things to do, not just “react” to the latest crisis. The focus is not just on “oh make the subways better” it’s on specific projects, and they have a huge discussion board. As such, their endorsement is a big one in NYC politics, and pissing them off leads to a volunteer army that can help or hurt an aspiring politican. Not always, of course, but most of the time.
    I’ll tell you one thing that would be kind of interesting – getting media focus on the fact they just built a new maintenance facility, a huge one, yet no maintenance goes on because there’s no money to pay for the actual equipment to make it, um, do maintenance! Maybe a strike could help that. Or something.

  8. anonymouse says:

    Well, the whole point of a union is power through mass action of the group being represented. Judging by what you say, it’s hopeless to try to form a union of that sort. I think the way forward then is a group that has a very specific focus on pressuring Muni to improve its operations. Not a progressive group, not a even a political one, just a group with a single special purpose of telling Muni how to do its job (and telling the rider/owners about it too). The maintenance facility thing is an example of that, another one is the work rules that we keep hearing about in the abstract, but I’ve never really seen concrete details of. Is it really true that Muni has to pay the driver extra if they make an N train into an L?

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