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July 23, 2014

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Muni labor talks stall as deadline looms

Issues over pay and pensions are major sticking points in labor talks between the SFMTA and the union representing Muni operators.  (Jerold Chinn/SFBay)
Issues over pay and pensions are major sticking points in labor talks between the SFMTA and the union representing Muni operators. (Jerold Chinn/SFBay)
Source   SFBay

It does not appear for now that another Muni driver sick-out is on the horizon, but the labor dispute between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the union that represents Muni operators is no closer to being resolved.

SFMTA board members held a special meeting Friday to disclose the meditated labor contract proposal from May 8 that Transport Workers Union Local 250-A members voted to reject 1,198-47 at the end of May, which led to a three-day driver sick-out during the first week of June.

The Director of Transportation also updated the board on labor negotiations are going with the union, which appears to be at a standstill.

Reiskin said Friday that a state meditator came in earlier this week to help try to resolve the labor contract dispute but talks fizzled on Thursday:

“For a moment it seemed like it was making progress. At this point, it doesn’t seem like it’s making progress but we’re continuing in the avenues that we could take to try to get to a resolution.”

The proposed labor contract that came out of the mediation process included a 3 percent base wage increase starting July 1 and an increase next year between 2.25 percent and 3.25 percent.

The proposed contract also includes operators to make a 7.5 percent pension payment — the main focus point of the labor negotiations.

Union President Eric Williams, who attended Friday’s board meeting, submitted two proposals to the board that said will resolve the major issues of the labor contract dispute.

Williams did not disclose what those agreements included but said what Reiskin had presented Friday was not the facts:

“They’re totally misleading the public. We just want to make it clear that we have been trying to get the agency back to the table. He’s misstating the facts. We sent them two proposals over the last two days to try to settle this thing so they can meet their timelines within the charter, in which he did not answer.”

Williams also said that the wage increase and pension swap is not fair to union members:

“Our members have not had a raise in over four years. They treated every other local union with a real swap. We’re saying give us a real even swap and a simple raise like every other City employee just got and we can put this thing to bed. When does 5.05 and 7.50 equal?”

Williams said the swap is a total lose for union members.

Reiskin said he sent a letter to union as talks died down reminding them of the City Charter provisions that outline the path on how to deal with a labor contract dispute. He also reminded the union about looming deadlines.

The current labor contract expires on June 30. The SFMTA has to make any new labor agreements public for 15 days, which means the transit agency has until Sunday to hash out a labor agreement with TWU Local 250-A leaders before a lapse occurs.

If a labor agreement cannot be made by June 15, the wages and health benefits from the current labor contract will remain in effect starting July 1, which means operators will not get scheduled wage increases. Reiskin said negotiations will still continue until there is an agreement.

Williams, who calls the current proposed contract insulting to operators. He said he was willing go to arbitration if the transit agency was willing to sign a letter to the arbitrator saying that a section of the 2010 voter-approved Proposition G cannot be applied in this case.

That section calls for the union leaders to provide the burden of proof in arbitration that operators will not be costly to The City.

TWU Local 250-A challenged the provision through the state Public Employees Relations Board, said Reiskin. An administrative law judge ruled that the provision was invalid. He said the matter is currently in appeal.

Reiskin said he had asked the arbitrator not to use this higher-standard provision, which was one of conditions by the union when entering into arbitration.

The transit agency remains hopeful an agreement can be made through the meditated process in the next two days but Williams said most likely not:

“We got to get our witnesses and everything we need to get ready for arbitration.”

Source   SFBay
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© 2011-14 SFBay Media Associates LLC

© 2011-14 SFBay Media Associates LLC