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Rail News: Labor

San Francisco Muni service disrupted during employee 'sickout'

San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) service was disrupted yesterday by an operator shortage caused by an employee "sickout" associated with contract negotiations between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A.

The agency announced this morning a service plan for Muni riders and advised them to find alternative forms of transportation for what is expected to be a second day of service disruptions.

Yesterday morning, only about 200 of Muni's 600 vehicles were in service; cable car service was shut down and express buses were making local stops after a large portion of operators called in sick, local news media reported.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin issued an apology to San Francisco residents and visitors for the disruption and advised them to continue to monitor local media for continued service disruptions. The sickout was in violation of a memorandum of understanding between SFMTA and the union, he said in a press release.

"The management of the SFMTA has negotiated in good faith with the leadership of the Transport Workers Union, Local 250-A," Reiskin said. "I am disappointed that this sickout follows the mediated tentative agreement that we reached. We have a process in place to resolve the remaining issues through the arbitration process already under way. We will do everything possible to get our people back to work, and we strongly urge our partners in the union leadership to do the same."

The agency and union have been negotiating a new two-year contract; the current contract expires June 30. The latest contract proposal from SFMTA called for a 10.3 percent to 11.3 percent percent wage increase for operators over the next two years, but they also would contribute 7.5 percent to their pensions — an amount now covered by SFMTA, according to a report in the San Francisco Examiner. A union official called the proposal an "unfair contract," according to the newspaper.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/3/2014