Muni Drivers Set to Receive $8 Million in Raises

Your driver ought to be cheery today
In a development that figures to play about as well as whipping out a boom box at a funeral, Muni drivers are set to receive millions in raises in the wake of a finalized city budget balanced by a quarter of a billion dollars in union give-backs. The folks riding in the bus probably have things to say, too.

The Transportation Workers Union was the only city union to refuse to contribute a cent toward the aforementioned give-backs -- and they did it twice. The drivers handily voted down concession packages in both February and June. Those deals would have saved the city about $19 million over the next two years.

Neither give-back offer would have affected the drivers' city charter-enshrined, automatic raises. But they would have involved one-time payments toward pension plans (Yes, Muni drivers don't contribute at all toward their pensions). The Muni drivers were the only city union that did not offer any concessions this year.

The TWU's February spurning of the concession plan rekindled Supervisor Sean Elsbernd's "Fix Muni Now" campaign to alter the manner in which drivers' salaries are calculated. Rather than engage in collective bargaining like every other union in the city, drivers are guaranteed a wage level of at least the second-highest in the nation in the city's charter. In this case, drivers are set to soon receive a 5.73 percent raise worth about $8 million.

With salary figures preordained, Elsbernd and other critics charge, Muni management has no means to negotiate away with wasteful and archaic labor practices enshrined in the union's Memorandum of Understanding. Elsbernd's charter amendment, which has qualified for November's ballot, would ostensibly change that by doing away with mandatory raises.

The Municipal Transporation Agency Board will officially review the drivers' raises on Tuesday. Yet since this raise is mandated by the city charter, this review is a formality.

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