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Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Proposition G
Transit Operator Wages
County of San Francisco

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 164234 / 64.94% Yes votes ...... 88671 / 35.06% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Arguments |

Shall the City eliminate the formula for setting minimum MUNI operator wages and instead set MUNI operator wages through collective bargaining and binding arbitration; add rules for arbitration proceedings regarding MTA's transit employees; and make other changes to terms of employment for MTA employees?

Summary Prepared by The Ballot Simplification Committee:
The Way It Is Now: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) oversees the City's Municipal Railway transit system (MUNI) and other City transportation functions. The MTA employs transit employees such as MUNI operators and mechanics, and non-transit employees such as parking control officers and traffic engineers.

The Charter requires the MTA to pay MUNI operators at least as much as the average salary of transit operators at the two highest paying similar transit systems in the country. When benefits paid to MUNI operators are worth less than the benefits provided to operators at similar transit systems, the difference is placed in a trust fund and paid to MUNI operators.

The Charter also requires the MTA to pay most managers and employees incentive bonuses if MUNI achieves certain service standards.

For most City employees, if the City and employee unions are unable to agree in collective bargaining, disputes are subject to binding arbitration. The MTA's negotiations with MUNI operators are not subject to binding arbitration. In some instances, the MTA has followed informal agreements about terms of employment even when they have not been approved by the MTA Executive Director or Board or included in any collective bargaining agreement. These informal agreements may be reflected in "side-letters" or past practices.

The Proposal: Proposition G would eliminate the formula for setting minimum MUNI operator wages. Instead, it would allow the MTA to set MUNI operator wages and benefits through collective bargaining and binding arbitration. It would also establish rules for arbitration proceedings regarding MTA's transit employees, and make other changes to terms of employment.

In particular, Proposition G would:

  • eliminate the requirement that MUNI operator wages be at least as high as the average for transit operators in the two highest paying similar transit systems;
  • eliminate the trust fund that provides additional payments or benefits to MUNI operators;
  • require the MTA contribution for MUNI operators' health coverage to be at least equivalent to the City contribution for the majority of other City employees. This requirement applies only to the first collective bargaining agreement approved after adoption of this measure;
  • require binding arbitration when the MTA and MUNI operator unions are unable to agree in collective bargaining. It also requires arbitrators considering disputes between the MTA and its transit employees to consider the impact of disputed proposals on MUNI fares and service;
  • make incentive bonuses for MTA managers and employees optional instead of required; and
  • provide that informal agreements reflected in past practices or "side-letters" be binding only if approved in writing by the MTA Executive Director or Board and included in the affected employees' collective bargaining agreements.

Fiscal Impact from The Controller of San Francisco:
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition G:

Should the proposed Charter amendment be approved by the voters, in my opinion, it could either increase or decrease the cost of government depending on the outcome of collective bargaining and labor arbitration processes.

The amendment provides for changes to the method by which wages are set for Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) transit operators. Currently, these wages are set through a national survey of the hourly wage in comparable transit agencies, averaging the two highest wage levels and setting that amount as a minimum. In addition, if fringe benefits for the comparable agencies surveyed exceed the value of those provided by the City, a payment is made to a transit operators benefit trust fund. Using the survey method, as of July 2010, MTA transit operators' highest wage rate is $27.92 per hour, and for the last five years the City has been required to make deposits averaging $5.0 to $7.0 million annually to the transit operators benefit trust fund. Finally, the amendment makes incentive pay optional that is now mandated for certain MTA employees--as of fiscal year 2009-2010, the amount of such incentive pay that would be made optional is approximately $3.0 million.

The proposed charter amendment would provide that transit operator wage levels be set through collective bargaining and labor arbitration processes as are used with other City employee unions. The amendment would eliminate the benefits trust fund and provide instead for health benefits at the same levels as are provided for the majority of other City employees.

Overall, collective bargaining and labor arbitration processes could result in either a decrease or an increase to drivers' wage and benefit levels.

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Arguments For Proposition G Arguments Against Proposition G
MUNI is a critical part of San Francisco's infrastructure. San Franciscans depend on Muni for transportation to work, doctor appointments, school, and recreation.

Unfortunately, route cuts and decreased service have made Muni inefficient and unreliable. Real Muni reform is needed to improve service and increase reliability.


Prop G will allow the MTA to allocate limited resources to services for riders rather than automatic, annual raises for drivers.

Currently, the Charter guarantees Muni drivers the second highest salary in the country. This year, Muni drivers received a $9 million raise while the MTA balanced a $50 million deficit on the backs of riders. All other city workers offered concessions to help balance the City budget, but Muni drivers refused. The result was reduced services and increased fares for Muni riders.

Prop G will eliminate the salary guarantee, so that drivers' salaries do not automatically increase. Prop G will allow drivers to negotiate salaries through collective bargaining + just like all other city employees.


Prop G will allow the MTA to negotiate new work rules, so that service is more reliable and more responsive to riders' needs.

Current work rules restrict the ability of the MTA to schedule, deploy, and assign Muni drivers. Proposition G would "press the reset button" on existing work rules, which create inefficient and unreliable service for riders.

For example, Muni operators are allowed to be absent without notice, missing runs and contributing to poor service.

The MTA should operate based on best practices, not past practices.


San Francisco is a world class City that deserves a world class transit agency.

Join Me in Voting YES on Prop G.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

Rebuttal to Arguments For
If Prop G Wins... Riders Lose!

Prop G doesn't fix MUNI now... or later. Nothing in this ballot proposal will restore service cuts, improve on-time performance, or make MUNI busses cleaner. The issues that matter to MUNI riders are NOT covered by this proposal.

Prop G is confusing, costly and will lead to serious labor problems. Muni has a record of more than a quarter century without a major labor dispute. Unlike most other transit systems, including BART and AC Transit, MUNI has enjoyed labor peace. If Prop G passes, labor issues will regularly be in dispute or arbitration. That means uncertainty and instability -- the last thing we need for a critical service like MUNI.

What does Proposition G accomplish?

Good question -- Prop G's supporters, big business interests and career politicians, have never answered it. What is clear, Prop G seeks to punish MUNI's frontline workers by making wages and other labor issues subject to dispute rather than the current formula that has served MUNI well for 40 years. Prop G also will do nothing to restore the $62 million in MUNI funds siphoned by other city departments this year on top of $60 million in state cuts to MUNI in each of the last three years.

Vote NO on G. MUNI is our public transportation system -- what MUNI needs is accountability starting at the top, not attacks on its workforce

Transport Workers Local 250 + A


For more than 40 years, Muni driver salaries have been determined by a formula that has made San Francisco one of the only cities in America not to experience a transit strike during that time, and a model for worker-management relations in transit.

Currently, salaries for transit operators are set by a formula approved by voters instead of leaving union contracts up to politicians to cut backroom deals.

The principle of workers and City Hall bargaining across a table to find resolution has worked well for our City for decades. Proposition G destroys that collaboration by changing a structure that has been in the charter for 40 years.

While our Muni system has its problems, Proposition G unfairly targets drivers as the only problem at the multi-million-dollar agency that runs our transit system. Like Muni riders, drivers tolerate a system that has been neglected for decades.

Drivers work hard to improve the system and get San Franciscans where they're going on time, but City Hall has consistently cut funds for transit while raising salaries for Muni executives. As budget deficits forced 10% service cuts this year, the head of the agency took home a paycheck of more than $300,000.

Proposition G does nothing to address the bloated bureaucracy that has siphoned funding from our bus and rail system for decades, it unfairly targets drivers and changes a voter-approved process that has worked for decades.

Muni drivers share riders' frustration and we are committed to improving the system for all San Francisans that rely on it to get to school and work every day. Propostion G unfairly targets drivers while neglecting the real challenges facing Muni.


Transport Workers Union Local 250-A

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Muni needs this change.

There are many things that need fixing at Muni, but we can no longer avoid the central issue of workplace culture.

Imagine trying to run a transit agency when you don't know who will show up to work each day.

Imagine trying to provide rush-hour service when you can't hire extra drivers to cover the busiest shifts. Everyone wants drivers to be paid well, and they will continue to be paid well after this reform.

But we need to change the work rules.

There is no reason that bus drivers, unlike the rest of organized labor, should not bargain for pay, benefits, and working conditions.

This is a modest, common-sense reform that will help improve the workplace culture and management of Muni. It will save tens of millions of dollars each year that can be put back into improved service.


San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)

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