Transport Workers Union Local 200

Intellipress on MTA

June 1, 2004 MTA Board Meeting

Back to Service Cuts

Seven Million Dollar Questions

Transport Workers Union Local 200
San Francisco, CA 94115

Was It Just a “Make-believe” Board
Meeting ?

MTA Board Considers $7 Million Dollars
in Service Cuts plus 135 Employee Layoffs

The Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors met Tuesday afternoon, June
1, 2004, to consider and vote on the Municipal Railway’s Revised FY 2005 budget
Operating Budget in the amount of $486,033,332.

The budget still includes $7 million dollars in service cuts.  Even though the budget
has increased by $10 million dollars since the preliminary budget presented to the
Board last February, the MTA Board was asked to approve 135 layoffs.  That is 10
more than the preliminary April budget.

The Chair Cleopatra Vaughns stated in opening remarks that the cuts would result in
reduced ability to meet Proposition E goals.  Nevertheless, the Board was going to
review these changes in the context of maintaining the best service possible.  

Alicia Fletcher of MTA staff presented the “technical changes” to the Board.  Director
Rev James McCray, Jr. questioned the Capital Projects included in the budget.  
Fletcher offered that the $8 million dollars of Capital Projects newly incorporated into
the operating budget “brought their own funding.”  In response to questioning from
Director Wil Din, Ms. Fletcher corrected an addition error in the listing of positions

Public comment by speakers from the community and labor organizations questioned
the budget numbers & MTA Board action:

The Citizens Advisory Committee is non-responsive to community comments.

The community understood from previous meetings that the vote to cut service had failed.  
Speakers expressed confusion and dismay that the MTA was still planning to cut service.

The agenda for the meeting was not posted on the Muni website until late Thursday afternoon.  
With the holiday weekend, the public was not adequately noticed.

Numbers that show transit in San Francisco is “under-utilized” are flawed.  Muni buses & trains
are packed; they are already overcrowded.

Why is it necessary to cut service when the budget is up $22 million dollars from last year?

A veteran Muni operator cited a study of the effects stress has on Muni Transit Operators.  The
proposed service cuts & “run-cutting efficiencies” will only make an already unhealthy work
environment worse.

Funding Capital Projects through the Operating Budget is not industry practice.  It’s a way to
manufacture a “financial crisis.”  The money for the Capital Projects comes from unrestricted,
discretionary funds.

The way the MTA was moving funds between DPT/Muni/SFPD and back and forth between
“capital outlays” & “capital projects” in the operating budget was a financial “shell game.”

Was Local 200 being targeted for layoffs because of the pending arbitration?   Was the ten
position increase in layoffs from 125 to 135, the same ten Local 200 members that are getting
layoff notices.  With at least 22 open 9139 positions unfilled & multiple shifts back-filled with
overtime, why are ten Local 200 positions being cut?  

Executive Director Michael Burns responded to the public comment stating that the
MTA budget process was “transparent,” and that all important records were available
on the internet.  Responding to criticism that he had relied on the 2/27/04
preliminary budget to authorize service cuts (which took place
before 600+ public
comments opposed to service cuts, and before the failed motion to approve the cuts),
Executive Director Burns stated that the failed 4/20/04 motion to authorize cuts did
not cover ALL service cuts, only route eliminations that would potentially trigger a
CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) environmental impact review.  The MTA
does not need an environmental review to “adjust” service levels to save $7 million.

Chair Vaughns concluded that the budget process was always difficult, but that it was
important to remember that budgeting was a process of moving numbers around.

With no further discussion, Item 11 was called to a vote.   Directors Peter Mezey & Wil
Din voted to approve the budget; Directors Shirley Breyer Black and James McCray
voted against the revised budget.  Chair Vaughns then cast her vote to approve the
budget and declared that the revised budget was approved.

MTA Board Secretary Roberta Boomer advised that the measure had not passed: Four
votes are required for passage.  

Director Mezey inquired of MTA General Counsel Julia Friedlander the consequences of
a “No” vote.  Counsel Friedlander explained that the Executive Director has the
authority to implement the changes in the revised budget without MTA Board

Director Breyer Black paraphrased what the General Counsel’s ruling meant in terms
of MTA Board actions: “So, this was all just make-believe?”

Executive Director Burns stated he was not sure that he was comfortable
implementing the changes without Board approval.   

Next Scheduled MTA Board Meeting is Tuesday,
June 15, 2004