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Intense Muni nego­tiations reached highest level

Muni’s new labor agreement between management and union officials comes after months of contentious negotiations with a mediator.

The new labor agreement includes a 9.5 percent wage increase to cover pension costs and a 4.75 percent cost of living increase over the next three years, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency which released the tentative agreement Monday night.

The first proposed labor contract back on May 3 did not satisfy union officials, who said the agreement was not fair to operators.

In the first proposed contract, operators would receive a 3 percent base wage increase starting July 1 and then an increase of 2.25 percent to 3.25 percent the following year. Operators though would have to make a 7.5 percent pension payment, which Reiskin said is what most other City employees are contributing to their retirement.

Union members rejected the proposed mediated contract 1,198 to 47 at the end of May, which followed a three-day Muni driver sick-out.

The first two days of the sick-out caused major delays to Muni buses, streetcars, subway trains and even shut down the operation of cable cars when hundreds of Muni operators called in sick on June 2. Some Muni riders waited up to an hour for their bus or train.

Union leaders said they had nothing to do with the sick-out.

Two weeks later, it was still not good news, when a state mediator could not resolve the labor contract dispute.

Local 250-A President Eric Williams said he was preparing for arbitration, which is where the disputed labor contract is suppose end up when union members rejected the contract. That is, until former Mayor Willie Brown stepped in.

Ed Reiskin, The City’s transportation director, said Monday at a special San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting that with the assistance from Mayor Ed Lee — Brown helped mediate a contract between management and the union that both sides could agree on:

“Happy to report with the assistance of Mayor Lee, that we were able to bring Mayor Willie Brown into the process to mediate within the city’s charter collective bargaining process — an agreement with Transport Workers Union Local 250-A.”

He said Brown definitely played a key role getting this agreement with union leaders. Reiskin said Brown stepped in about two weeks ago to get himself updated with the situation and then started meeting with both sides last Wednesday:

“He was certainly the man here. I do believe it would not have happened without him.”

Williams sent out a press release Friday night that read a deal was struck with management and union leaders, but did not provide anymore details:

“Thanks to strong support of our membership and hard work at the negotiating table, we have reached a new tentative agreement… And we continue to believe that best way to resolve labor management concerns is through fair and balanced collective bargaining.”

Union members still need to ratify the agreement before the SFMTA board can take a vote on the contract. Reiskin said that union officials will hold the vote on July 7. If approved, the SFMTA board members will vote on the new labor agreement at their July 15 meeting.

Reiskin said Muni riders can relax as another work stoppage does not appear to be on the horizon:

“We have labor peace at the moment that will keep the buses and trains running and keep the service being delivered.”

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