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article imageSan Francisco streets jammed as transit worker protest continues

By Nathan Salant     Jun 3, 2014 in Travel
San Francisco - A worker sickout delayed San Francisco's morning and evening commutes for a second day Tuesday as thousands of transit employees stayed home to protest a controversial contract provision.
Only half of the 600 buses and streetcars that ply city streets daily were expected to be in service Tuesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
One hundred more vehicles were available for service on Tuesday but "major service impacts remain," the city's Municipal Railway agency said in a 4:35 a.m. posting on Twitter, the newspaper said.
The Municipal Railway is commonly referred to as Muni.
Crowded vehicles and delays of up to an hour were expected, Muni warned its riders, and there will be no cable car service for a second day.
The BART regional transportation service that links San Francisco and Oakland with 23 cities in the Bay Area was honoring Muni fares within San Francisco, the newspaper said.
Muni transportation director Ed Reiskin said he was "disappointed" by the worker protest and apologized for the continued disruption of service on one of California's busiest public transit systems.
"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," Reiskin said.
But officials of the operators' union, Local 250-A of the Transport Workers Union, said they were not responbible for the protest, even though they previously called the disputed contract provision unfair and unreasonable, the newspaper said.
The sickout started Monday morning and idled two-thirds of the city's transit vehicles for both the morning and evening commutes.
The protest was reportedly over a provision in the workers' proposed contract that would raise wages over three years but require employees to pay 7.5 percent of their salaries toward retirement benefits for the first time.
Union members voted 1,198 to 47 against the proposed contract on Friday, Local 250-A leaders said.
Muni officials declined to return to the bargaining table after the vote, union leaders told the newspaper.
But Muni posted a memo in transit yards and e-mailed workers that they would be required to have doctors' notes to take sick pay for Monday.
"Operators claiming to be sick today, or in connection with any future 'sickout,' will be required to submit adequate verification from their health care provider in order to be eligible to receive paid sick leave," the city's Municipal Transportation Agency said in the memo.
"Rather than bargain in good faith, management hopes that an arbitrator will shift pension costs, reduce wages and allow the replacement of full-time experienced drivers with part-time drivers paid at rates far below the full-timers," Local 250-A said in a statement Tuedsay, the newspaper said.
Muni spokesman Paul Rose refused to comment on contract negotiations.
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