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Cable cars, buses stall as workers call in sick

By SUDHIN THANAWALA and TERRY COLLINS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco's famed cable cars stopped running Monday and the rest of the city transit system experienced delays when drivers called in sick a few days after overwhelmingly rejecting a new labor contract, officials said.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency operated without two-thirds of the vehicles that would normally be used to provide service, spokesman Paul Rose said.

The agency known as MUNI runs buses, light rail and street cars in addition to the cable cars, and serves about 700,000 passengers each day. Its 2,200 operators represented by Transport Workers Union Local 250-A rejected the contract by a 1,198 to 42 vote Friday, according to totals on the union's website.

The workers are not allowed to go on strike, but they can call in sick. Rose said he did not know how many employees had done so.

Transit officials said those who reported sick must provide "adequate verification from their health care provider" to get sick pay and could be subject to discipline.

Monday's surprise slowdown led to long lines as most trains and buses running were at capacity.

"We're doing our best to balance service throughout the city and provide service on every route and line, but at this point there will be delays," Rose said.

On Monday, a fare inspector at the start of cable car lines at Powell and Market streets broke the bad news to dozens of tourists who had planned to ride the historic conveyances.

"We're very disappointed," said Willfrid Strauss, 56, who was visiting San Francisco with his new wife, Corinne, from France. The two were married in Las Vegas on Friday.

"We're only here in San Francisco for three days, so this is one of the highlights of our trip," he said.

City residents trying to get to work in the morning faced crowded light-rail trains and delays of up to an hour on buses.

"It was jam packed, super crowded and slightly slower," architect Steve Weiss said as he left a light-rail train at Powell Street near Union Square.

All express buses were serving every stop, the transportation agency said. The Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency, which serves an area that includes the city, was honoring tickets on city transportation all day from the Daly City and Balboa Park stations to downtown San Francisco, Rose said.

The contract that MUNI workers rejected Friday would have given them a raise of more than 11 percent over two years. However, it also would have required them to cover a 7.5 percent pension payment currently paid by the transit agency, Rose said.

The contract would have increased operator pay to $32 an hour, making them the second highest-paid transit workers in the country, Rose said.

Union President Eric Williams called the proposal unfair and said in a statement on the union's website that the city had proposed unreasonable takeaways in wages and benefits.

Calls and emails to union officials Monday were not immediately returned.

Just before Monday evening's commute, Mayor Ed Lee tweeted that the sickout hurts the city's workers and families.

"Transit workers must get back to work and reach labor agreement to keep SF moving," Lee said.

Join the discussion

1000|Characters 1000  Characters
petpetdon June 03 2014 at 3:54 AM

ALL unions only protect the lazy and the incompetent.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
9 replies
sfttguy June 02 2014 at 11:51 PM

Fire them.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
1 reply
geoflying sfttguy June 03 2014 at 7:11 AM

Dumb a zz.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
elpasoworld June 03 2014 at 12:15 AM

$32.00 an hour to. . . . . DRIVE A BUS ? ! ?
(or trolley, or light rail, or. . . . anything.)
Get real.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
4 replies
gailneuman June 03 2014 at 3:51 AM

wow they turned down $32 an hour for an unskilled job!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
ricklexus June 02 2014 at 11:56 PM

Terrorist, nothing more. Fire them all and end Unions.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
twolonghorns3593 June 03 2014 at 2:03 AM

SAN FRANCISCO WANTS THE MIMIUM WAGE TO GO TO 20 DOLLARS AN HOUR SO WHAT 32 DOLLARS AN HOUR LET THAT WORTLESS CITY GO TO HELL

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
n_parmelee1 twolonghorns3593 June 03 2014 at 2:39 PM

Two longhorns????? Texans???? Now I can understand your response. You are a narrow minded ignorant person, who most likely NEVER has been in SF. There IS a beautiful world out there but you may be too stupid to know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
rpear23456 n_parmelee1 June 03 2014 at 3:11 PM

San Francisco was once one of my favorite places. I would not even think of going there now. Pity...they had great sushi but now there are just too many nut jobs like parmelee1.

Flag 0 rate up
juancarlos6928 June 03 2014 at 7:48 AM

Liberal Leftist City, welcome to the United States Socialist of America

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
n_parmelee1 juancarlos6928 June 03 2014 at 2:25 PM

ONE of the grandest cities in the US. I would love to live there.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
petpetdon June 03 2014 at 12:53 AM

They should be forced to bring in a Doctor's note. No note, you are fired.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
sadiemae1214 petpetdon June 03 2014 at 11:54 AM

"Transit officials said those who reported sick must provide "adequate verification from their health care provider" to get sick pay and could be subject to discipline"
READ MUCH?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
n_parmelee1 sadiemae1214 June 03 2014 at 2:40 PM

Sadiemae1214, people nowadays cannot read or write well. They just have evil in their souls.

Flag 0 rate up
sunboy101 June 02 2014 at 11:15 PM

All they have to do is claim they had a case of the runs or throwing up all night and they're off the hook.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
MATT sunboy101 June 02 2014 at 11:50 PM

THERE NOT SICK THERE JUST STAYING HOME WATCHING (RERUNS OF FULL HOUSE) UNCLE JESSIE THE MILK MAN THE PAPER BOY EVEING TV EVERY WARE U LOOK U EVER WARE U GO
SOMEBODYS IS THERE

Flag Reply 0 rate up
4 replies
gailneuman sunboy101 June 03 2014 at 3:52 AM

no it said if they call in sick they have to provide a doctor's note

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Imofanopinion gailneuman June 03 2014 at 2:25 PM

I do not believe they can force someone to go to the Dr for a Dr note or that would have to be the become the new policy for all for any sick days used in a year. They are allowed so many sick days a year. like many employees and they are using them at this time.

Flag 0 rate up
Gerry Mazloum June 03 2014 at 8:00 AM

Doctors note or termination!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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