Bumbling by Management & TWU Leadership Fails Operators and Riders Alike!

By now most have read the news that Muni’s operators have voted in a landslide against the first contract under the terms of Proposition G. There’s plenty of post-vote finger pointing, for sure, but in the end, I’m not sure who’s “winning” in this situation.
TWU’s leadership is almost legendary at this point for finding new ways to fail at their job, so much so that one wonders why Muni’s operators put up with them. They have continued to invent new ways to piss off the riding public, and even other city unions with this weird combination of whining, tough “talk,” and absolutely no ability to connect with the public at large. (Odd when you consider they work in a job that requires working well with said public). It was very clear by their actions they sent the message to their membership that they should vote “no,” without saying so. Wow. Way to negotiate in good faith, guys.
However, management isn’t getting a free pass here either. It was never realistic to patch all of Muni’s deficit from one union out of many at the SFMTA. Nor did it help to hire an expensive contractor to handle communications, sending the wrong message during a time when Muni is pleading poverty. Compounded with the news that CEO Nathaniel Ford is likely to be quitting (and getting a golden parachute in the process), and it’s no wonder that it was hard to take management seriously during these critical negotiations. Without anyone (not even our Temporary Mayor) making Muni a priority in a time of crisis, it’s no wonder things fell apart.
In the end, it is the many good operators, and the owner/riders, who will lose in the aftermath of this blundering about. If, after arbitration operators stage an illegal strike, or other job actions, whatever good will is left with the public will evaporate. An already moral-starved agency will continue to sink, and those of us who rely on a functional Muni will be stranded on the way to work, school or the store. Even people who don’t use Muni will feel the pain as increased traffic will take the place of buses and LRVs stranded or slowed by a labor action.
I think what’s needed now is not a lot of nasty talk on blogs or comment sections with the usual witty rejoinders (“Muni sucks” “Privatize Muni” “Operators Suck” “Riders Suck”) and the usual choose-up-siderism San Francisco is famous for. Instead, I think it’s time once again for we, the owners and riders of Muni, to send a message to our elected officials and to TWU’s union that we are sick and tired of the bullshi*t.
Instead we want them to take all ther well paid selves together, and figure out how to make the system work for riders first. Anyone who doesn’t believe in that should be politely shown the door and never allowed back on City property, and those that are interested in stepping up should do so and lead. Those who wish to occupy Room 200 need to put aside the nicey-nicey phony politics and step up and make it clear what their action plan is. Yeah, we all know you think Muni is an important “issue,” candidates, but for us it’s a system that serves the city’s residents. Got a plan, candidates? Well let’s hear it.
We have waited too long and paid too much for something that simply isn’t working as it should.

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