Muni drivers participating in sickout given ultimatum

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Passengers try to board a crowded Muni bus in San Francisco.
Passengers try to board a crowded Muni bus in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For a second day, Muni passengers are left waiting because of a worker sickout. The city now says it will crack down on those are not showing up for work. And even the union representing the drivers is now urging them to resume operations.

A letter sent by the union to their members said that if they called in sick, they must bring in a doctor's note. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said on Tuesday that with no note, there will be no pay. He went on to add that the workers could face penalties because this disruption has cost the city a lot of money.

"Our human relations division is forced to do the investigations now on every single person who is declared sick to determine whether or not that is in fact the fact," said Mayor Lee. "We don't believe it is."

The transport workers union Local 250-A, which represents these employees, told Mayor Lee it had nothing to do with this sickout. Every employee will receive a letter saying "if you called in sick you will be required to provide a doctor's note."

Supervisor Scott Wiener was among the many crammed passengers trying to get home Monday night. On Tuesday he introduced legislation urging them to get back to work.

"The mayor and the board need to stand in unity to make sure this system is functioning for the people of San Francisco," he said.

On Friday, Muni workers voted overwhelming to reject the new proposed contract which offers higher wages but employees would have to contribute more to their pensions.

Meanwhile day two of the sickout was slightly better with more transit operators showing up for work. Still, it wasn't enough to meet the demand.

"Today we had about 100 additional operators out on the street, but that's still only about half of our buses and trains that we can put out during our morning and evening commutes," said Muni spokesperson Paul Rose.

"I don't know if people were just fed up or took cabs or what, but I'm worried about this afternoon," said Muni passenger Tamra Al-Khalil. "Because I can't afford cabs and my monthly pass every month."

Fellow Muni passenger Janel Wilson added, "It's a drastic problem and it's really putting a burden on the community of people who rely on public transportation."

The city says the sickout is costing a lot of money. The cable cars are not operating and that alone brings in a fair amount of revenue from tourists.