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Transit workers’ ‘sickout’ still hobbling Bay Area bus and train commutes

By Reuters
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 19:31 EDT
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El Cerrito Del Norte BART Station [Wikipedia Commons]
 
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – San Francisco’s bus and train system was snarled for a second day on Tuesday, despite more drivers reporting for work amid a sickout to protest stalled contract talks, officials said.

“Today, it’s a little bit better just because the sickout is smaller than it was yesterday and I think some people are not even bothering to try to get on Muni,” San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said.

The sickout by workers, which their union said it did not condone, has hobbled the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency system, which normally sees about 700,000 passengers board each day. All three of the city’s famed cable car lines were closed.

Commuters had stood in long lines at bus stops on Monday, in some cases pushing and shoving to get on crowded Muni buses.

But commuting conditions eased slightly on Tuesday with about half the Muni buses and trains operating, compared to only a third on Monday, Wiener said.

An estimated 300 drivers showed up to work on Tuesday, compared to 200 on Monday and about 600 on a typical day.

Wiener said he had been able to board a crowded subway car to work but space was tight because of curtailments to service.

The transportation agency warned commuters they may face delays of up to an hour on some lines, said agency spokesman Paul Rose.

The sickout comes after workers with the Transportation Workers Union of America Local 250-A, which represents the agency’s bus and rail operators, voted overwhelmingly on Friday to reject a contract proposal from the transportation agency.

The proposal would require workers to contribute more to pension plans in an amount that would outstrip the pay raise being offered to them, said Eric Williams, president of Local 250-A.

Wiener said he planned to introduce an emergency motion at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday urging drivers to get back to work.

“We don’t have the ability to order them back to work,” he said. “Only a court of law can do that and I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

(Reporting by Stephen Lam in San Francisco; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)

[Image: El Cerrito Del Norte BART Station, via Wikipedia Commons]

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