So I go turn on the Twitter, and it seems many people riding a bus or train this morning got these printed screeds from TWU, who apparently in the second decade of the 21st century, thought the best way to reach the owners/riders of Muni was to litter buses with their POV. While I can’t read the entire thing, it’s clear this is about the “bonuses” that got everyone in a tizzy last month.
Unlike other city departments, Muni’s operators don’t negotiate pay every few years – they have a formula that sets their compensation. Essentially it ensures they get paid some of the highest salaries in the nation, while also ensuring that Muni drivers can never go on strike. The idea was to ensure labor peace, as opposed to the risk of strikes, like we saw last year at BART. This was done at a time when no one could forsee just how crap-tacular our economy and government would tank, so it seemed like a good idea.
It is very easy to put all the blame on Muni’s financial problems soley on drivers since they’re the ones people see every day. Why, we even have politicians, who in the past never gave a damn about Muni, coming up with Yet More Ballot Measures to grab headlines, but who are the same ones who supported the looting of Muni in the first place.
However, these grandstanding moves don’t address the whole picture. Muni had a big hole punched in its revenue stream by the state of California’s illegal shell game budgets, and no one locally has a plan to replace that with a reliable local revenue source. Instead, the plan has been to drive up fares, and drastically cut service. Yesterday’s blog post had a few links to some great summaries of how we really got here, and are worth keeping in mind. Let’s not forget there’s the little discussed detail about how lavishly management and SEIU members are paid at Muni – but since we don’t see them every day, no one talks about that…hmm.
What TWU doesn’t seem to appreciate, though, is that the lack of public support for them right now isn’t because the public is made up of hateful people who want to force drivers to slave away for 10 bucks an hour with no benefits and regular beatings. They’ve brought on the pain they’re experiencing all on their own. Let’s make a quick list:
– Arbitrarily turning the N at 19th or Sunset , stranding Outer Sunset passengers;
-Going to court to prevent the public from knowing who the “worst of the worst” are;
– Coming on my blog and telling owner/riders to “get a damn car” after being criticized for an illegal labor action that screwed the morning commute;
–Rampant absenteeism that screws over schedules, drives up costs, and even fellow bus drivers;
– Using the PA system to attack people,
– Never giving any help to the truly GOOD men and women who actually care about their job well.
(You can find more examples in the NJC Archives for added fun.)
Like so many people at all levels of City government, Muni, the MTA and many people who work there seem to have forgotten that we’re the true owners of Muni, not them. We are the ones they are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the system they’ve been entrusted to manage and operate. We are weary of recession, unemployment, barely-employment, and the constant threat of job losses no matter how hard we work.
We’re constantly asked to pay more for less service, and we are always the ones taking it in the pocketbook, while we see high pay for executives and a Mayor who steals money from safety inspectors to pay for expensive political hacks. When we’ve had another day delayed to incompetence or cuts, and get treated like crap by the people who work for us, we’re not going to be very sympathetic to them as a group, no matter what the facts are.
They just know that they’re asked to pay more and get less at a time when they can’t afford it. If the do-nothings around town sucking down big pay at our expense don’t wake up soon, people will find a way to ensure they do, and it won’t be pleasant. It might not result in the best policy, possible, but people will find a way to at least feel that the pain is being spread around a bit more evenly.
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