Muni’s Sickout Ends and Even the Cable Cars Are Returning
Update, 9:30 a.m. Thursday: The Great Muni Sickout of 2014 has ended. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is telling riders that all vehicles, including cable cars, will be following their regular routes this morning. The return to transit normalcy comes after a three-day sickout by operators that appeared to be the result of an ongoing contract dispute.
According to the SFMTA site: “Muni service availability has steadily improved over the past few days, and is expected to provide approximately 90 percent of this morning’s service based on pre-service data. Muni operated at 54 percent, 61 percent, and 80 percent of total service on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, this week respectively.”
The agency said that buses, trolley coaches, cable cars, the Muni Metro and the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line will all be back to business as usual.
Yesterday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed unfair labor practice charges with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board in an attempt to end the sickout. Although the union denies any involvement in the sickout, the charges allege that Transport Workers Union Local 250-A was flouting contract and City Charter provisions.
The complaint maintains that the sickout is illegal under state law as well as the existing contract with Muni workers. Given the union’s rejection of the SFMTA’s offer, the complaint says, a neutral three-member arbitration board should resolve the impasse.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitrator is scheduled to meet with negotiators from labor and management on Saturday, but that a spokesman for the city attorney’s office said the union’s lawyer sent a letter saying the union wouldn’t attend. The story also reported that transit workers voted 1,198-47 against the proposed contract, according to union officials.
Update, 9 a.m. Wednesday: Here’s Muni’s updated service plan for Wednesday morning. Again, the agency says about 440 of its normal fleet of 600 buses, light-rail vehicles, streetcars and cable cars are operating.
Update, 6 a.m. Wednesday: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is saying that things are looking better than the past couple of mornings. The agency is putting about 70 percent of its fleet on the street as some bus drivers and rail operators continue a job action fueled by anger over a city contract proposal.
Muni’s count of vehicles on the road this morning is about 440 of the normal 600 buses, light-rail vehicles, streetcars and cable cars. Significant “gaps and delays” are expected again throughout the system, though Muni is restoring service where it can.
A few details:
- Service will return on all bus lines, including Muni’s express (X) and limited (L) lines.
- Muni Metro light-rail service will operate two-car trains.
- F-Line streetcars will run between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building but not on Market Street.
- Cable cars continue to be shut down. Some limited shuttle bus service is available along the car routes.
- BART will continue to honor Muni fares and transfers between the Daly City and Embarcadero stations.
Update, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday: SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin says things are looking up for tomorrow.
“We are starting to see a little bit of turnaround in terms of attendance coming back,” Reiskin said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that tomorrow should be much better.”
In the meantime, San Francisco supervisors voted unanimously for a resolution calling on workers to return to their jobs.
“We need to be very strong and clear as elected representatives of the people of San Francisco that it is not OK to debilitate the Muni system,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the resolution.
The SFMTA is also telling the Muni operators’ union that it will seek damages for the sickout by operators. Transport Workers Union Local 250-A President Eric Williams said that the union had nothing to do with the sickout but that “it’s understandable, given the frustration over how the men and women are being treated by the city and the agency.” In a letter, Williams also called on workers to return.
Update 2:30 p.m. Tuesday: Already worrying about the evening commute? The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency just released new bus and light-rail schedules.
Beginning at 3 p.m., the J, L, M and N will now operate on short routes with limited bus shuttles to the terminals. Also, note that we’ve heard from several riders who were able to ride buses listed as not in operation today. Cable cars are still not in operation, and their lines are covered by limited bus shuttles.
- J-Church — Will operate between Embarcadero Station and 30th Street. Limited bus shuttle service will be provided between 30th Street and Balboa Park Station. Customers traveling between Balboa Park Station and 30th are encouraged to use BART or Mission Street routes.
- K-Ingleside — Will operate on its regular route
- L-Taraval — Will operate between Embarcadero Station and 22nd Avenue. Limited bus shuttle service will be provided between 22nd Avenue and the Zoo.
- M-Ocean View — Will operate between Embarcadero Station and S.F. State. Limited bus shuttle service will be provided between 19th Avenue and Holloway and Balboa Park Station.
- N-Judah — Will operate between Embarcadero Station and 19th Avenue. Limited bus shuttle service will be provided between 19th Avenue and Ocean Beach. T-Third trains will provide service from Embarcadero to Caltrain at Fourth and King.
- T-Third— Will operate on its regular route
Muni Bus Service
- No limited-stop service on the 5L, 9L, 14L, 28L, 38L and 71L routes
- The following routes will not operate:
- 1AX/BX, 31AX/BX, 38AX/BX
- 16X, 88
- 3-Jackson – The majority of stops on this route are covered by the 2-Clement
- 8AX-Bayshore Express and 8BX will operate without changes.
Update, 12:30 p.m. Tuesday: Muni officials announced that an arbitration hearing on the contract dispute is scheduled to take place Saturday. But Eric Williams, president of the local transport workers union, said he wants to resume contract talks before then.
“You know, we are ready and prepared to go back to the table with the agency,” Williams said. “We just want to assure the public that we’re here to offer up the services that we’re supposed to. We’re here. We’re just asking to be treated fairly.”
The union has played no role in the sickout, and was surprised when it happened. Williams apologized to residents of San Francisco, but blamed the process.
“I apologize,” he said. “But actually it’s on the city. For 30 years there was a system in place that helped negotiate or navigate these issues through negotiations. That’s been taken away.”
Mayor Ed Lee criticized the 300 or so drivers who have called in sick over the last two days, and called on them to return to work.
Update, 9 a.m. Tuesday: It’s Day Two of the Great Muni Sickout of 2014. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is reporting that bus and rail operators have again called in sick in large numbers, meaning that just a fraction of normal service is available for the Tuesday morning commute.
Muni reported Tuesday that about 300 of the usual fleet of 600 vehicles rolled out this morning. Transit delays are reported on most lines in the city, and the agency says commuters should expect big crowds and delays of up to an hour.
Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators staging a sickout, released a statement Tuesday morning on its contract negotiations with the city. The statement said in part:
SFMTA managers had told workers throughout the bargaining process that any shift from the city’s pension contributions to a plan funded by individuals would be offset by wage increases and would be “cost neutral.” However, even with wage increases of more than 8.05 percent proposed by SFMTA, drivers would experience a cut in their take-home pay.
Over the past three years, drivers received no wage increases and are currently paid less than their counterparts in Seattle, Santa Clara, and other comparable public transit systems. Rather than improving wages and benefits, under the transit agency’s proposal, the vast majority of drivers would be paid less in real wages over the life of the agreement than they make now. MUNI workers are the only public employees in the City of San Francisco being targeted for a reduction in earnings.
“This is a great city, but a very difficult place to operate a bus, streetcar or cable car,” said TWU 250-A President Eric Williams. “This also is a very expensive city and while SFMTA’s ridership and revenues are on rising, the agency seeks to cut wages and benefits and convert full-time positions to part time.”
TWU 250-A has offered to return to the bargaining table — but that offer has been rejected. Rather than bargain in good faith, management hopes that an arbitrator will shift pension costs, reduce wages and allow the replacement of full-time experienced drivers with part-time drivers paid at rates far below the full-timers. The transit agency also seeks to establish a 5-year wage progression schedule that would create two classes of workers.
The agency says its light-rail lines — the J-Church, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, M-Ocean View, N-Judah and T-Third — are all running. To maximize capacity, each train is operating with just two cars. The F-Line streetcars are operating only between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf — no service is being offered up Market Street to the Castro. The city’s cable car lines are shut down for a second straight day.
Tuesday bus service details, per Muni:
The 8AX Bayshore Express and 8BX will operate without changes. There will be no limited-stop service (affects the 5L, 9L, 14L, 28L, 38L). And the following routes will not operate: 1AX/BX, 31AX/BX, 38AX/BX, 16X, 88, 3-Jackson (the majority of stops on the 3 are covered by the 2-Clement).
Update, 3:30 p.m. Monday: The SFMTA sent a memo to workers today stating that the agency will not pay workers without a doctor’s note or other verification. Chief of Staff Alicia John-Baptiste also reminded workers that they are forbidden to strike under their contract.
Update, 2 p.m. Monday: The union that represents Muni operators has overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal made by SFMTA. The proposal would have given Muni drivers an 11.25 percent raise over two years and required that they contribute 7.5 percent to their pensions.Hundreds of Muni bus, light rail and cable car operations remain offline, and there are widespread delays across the system.
“I think I’ve been here 15 minutes,” said Ernestine Jensen, a retired San Francisco resident waiting for an F-line historic streetcar at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. After she learned that only two of 20 trains were running, she left. “I’ll do my shopping another day,” she said.
Update, 10:25 a.m. Monday: Muni is scrambling to patch together service as bus and rail operators follow through with a threatened sickout this morning.
Via Twitter (@sfmta_muni), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said it’s seeing “major delays” throughout the city. Agency spokesman Paul Rose says that 400 of the 600 buses, light-rail vehicles, streetcars and cable cars that would normally be on the streets have been idled because of driver absences. The sickout is in response to widespread anger over a city contract proposal (see original post below for details).
Muni urged riders to take alternate service Monday if possible and announced that BART will honor Muni passes and transfers between Daly City and downtown San Francisco stops today.
Limited service is rolling, Muni says, but all express buses will operate as local runs. F-Line streetcar service has been hit by long delays and is being supplemented with shuttle bus service. No cable car service will operate until at least noon, the agency says.
“We’ve called in as many operators as we could to help fill service,” Rose told KQED’s Ted Goldberg, “and they account for the 200 vehicles we were able to put out this morning.”
Rose said Muni is trying to make plans to deal with a second day of operator absences. He said the agency is contacting other transit providers in the region that might be able to supplement Muni’s severely curtailed service.
“We’re hoping that today is the only day this will impact our riders,” Rose said. “We’re certainly hoping for the best but planning for the worst.”
Original post (Sunday night): A Muni spokesman said Sunday night that a higher-than-normal number of bus and light-rail operators have called in ill for Monday morning, increasing the chance that union members unhappy with a city contract proposal will stage a sickout on Monday morning.
“While it appears the majority of our transit operators will be on the job tomorrow, early attendance reports indicate that service could be impacted,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose. “We will be working through the night and morning to balance service the best we can across the city.”
The rumored sickout, first reported Friday by SF Weekly, came on the same day that Muni’s 2,200 operators and mechanics began voting on a contract that Eric Williams, president of Transit Workers Local 250-A, said was full of “unreasonable takeaways in wages and benefits.”
The principal dispute between Muni and the operators — who, like other municipal workers, are barred from striking by the City Charter — revolves around two monetary issues: pay raises in the new two-year contract and a requirement for new pension contributions by union members.
A summary of the contract posted by Local 250-A shows that operators hired before July 1, 2011, will get a 5.05 percent “base wage increase” starting next month, plus another 3 percent. In exchange, the contract requires operators to pay a 7.5 percent pension contribution that until now was paid by Muni. The second year of the contract includes a raise of between 2.25 and 3.25 percent, depending on inflation.
Local 250-A voted on the contract Friday, with members predicting it would be voted down. No results had been announced by late Sunday. If operators reject the contract, the dispute will be submitted to arbitration.
KQED’s Dan Brekke, Olivia Allen-Price, Lisa Pickoff-White, Bryan Goebel, Isabel Angell, Guy Marzorati and Ted Goldberg contributed to this post.