TWU 250 A Union given more time to meet with mediator on Muni operator contract

TWU 250 A Union given more time to meet with mediator on Muni operator contract
By Jessica Kwong @JessicaGKwong

• The union representing Muni operators has been advised to resume negotiations in the contract dispute that led to a three-day sickout earlier this month.
Discussions with a mediator on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's revised contract for Muni operators can continue until June 30 after the agency disclosed the contract proposal two days prior to the Sunday deadline.

Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, whose members rejected the proposed contract on May 30 with a 1,198-47 vote, sparking a three-day sickout, broke off talks on Wednesday night. But the following day, SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin sent a letter to union President Eric Williams calling for negotiations to resume and warning that operators would not get a raise if an agreement is not in place by June 30.

"We urge you, again, to return to the mediation-arbitration process to achieve a resolution of the successor [memorandum of understanding]," Reiskin wrote in the letter. "We stand ready to immediately engage in the process, and the neutral mediator-arbitrator has indicated his willingness to make himself very available if the Union returns to the process."

The current operator contract expires June 30 but provisions on wages and benefits would carry over for a year if a new agreement is not reached and approved by the SFMTA board, Board of Supervisors and mayor by then. The disclosure of the proposed contract amendment by Sunday was required under the City Charter.

"We were extremely disappointed that the union refused to meet with the neutral mediator last week," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said Sunday. "We will continue to reach out to the union this week to resume talks so we can work together to achieve a timely contract that will reward our operators with deserved wage increases and other important benefits."

Union officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The proposed agreement that was disclosed Friday would raise operator pay between 10.3 and 11.3 percent over the next two years and make them the second-highest-paid transit workers in the country, but operators would contribute 7.5 percent to their pensions, which the SFMTA currently covers.

The labor deadlock led hundreds of operators to call in sick for three days starting June 2, though the union denied organizing the sickout action that reduced the number of operating lines by two-thirds on the first day. The SFMTA and union met in 19 sessions between February and May on a successor memorandum of understanding.