Arbitrator upholds rejected Muni contract; some drivers hint at strike or slowdown


An independent arbitrator ruled in favor of the city in its contract negotiations with the Muni union. Photo by Jerold Chinn/SF Public Press

 Like it or not, Muni operators must accept a labor contract they rejected last week.

An independent arbitrator made her decision Monday to implement the tentative labor contract that was agreed upon by union leaders and the Municipal Transportation Agency last month.

The contract includes the same terms as the previous agreement including a three-year wage freeze, the hiring of part-time drivers and changes in work rules that management says will provide a more efficient transit system.

The new labor contract will save the transit agency $41 million in labor costs over the next three years, according to an agency representative.

“This new contract will restore SFMTA’s ability to efficiently schedule transit services, and will reduce the cost of built-in overtime and standby pay by using part-time operators,” said the agency’s Director of Administrator, Debra Johnson in a statement.

After union members voted 994 to 448 against ratifying the tentative labor agreement last week, it was up to an arbitrator to settle the labor contract, according to the city charter. This was part of the voter-approved Proposition G, which also eliminated the requirement for operators to have the nation’s second-highest salaries.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that several operators are not happy with the decision. The Chronicle says a group of “renegade” operators hinted on striking and possibly slowing down the transit system. 

The new contract takes effect on July 1.

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