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S p a r k p l u g T h e I A M D i s t r i c t 1 9 0

VOL. 1, NO. 2

FEBRUARY 1999

Serving the Active and Retired Members of IAM District Lodge 190

Aging fleet, lack of parts and vacancies make job that much tougher

Muni. Just hearing the word causes eyes to roll and hands to wring across San Francisco.

For years, former mayor Frank Jordan and the board of supervisors starved Muni to balance the city budget. Now, the troubled agency may be the downfall of Mayor Brown.

per square mile in the nation. Muni runs several facilities on a 24/7 schedule to in- spect and repair its vast fleet of diesel buses, electrified trolleys, Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs); and historical buses and trolleys.

The Sparkplug visited with Local 1414 members at the Flynn facility, who work

they’ve never even got rehabbed.

“Next, when Muni first got these German MAN bus- es, several transit authorities were using them. Therefore parts and technical support were plentiful. But now, many parts are discontinued.

We have machinists fabricat- ing parts and doing a lot of improvising.”

According to Local 1414 President Tom Curran who is currently Acting Maintenance Supervisor, “these buses are running only due to the tenacity of

A year and a half is long enough. . .

on the 60 foot articulated diesel buses, to find out what Muni is like from their vantage point. Shop Steward Mauro Benedetti explained the range of diffi- culties that the mechanics confront. “First, we’re dealing with a fleet of 100 vehicles that should have had their mid- life rehab in 1990 and should have been retired in 1996. They’re running beyond their life expectancy and Steven Lind fixing the guts of a 60 foot atriculated Muni bus. Members of Local 1414 work against all odds, including lots of bad press, to keep Muni buses on the road. With an aging fleet, unfilled vacancies, and the non-availability of spare parts, some would say it’s a Herculean feat that the buses run at all.

Four mechanics began a strike at Lexus of Concord by rolling their large tool box- es, worth $30,000 each, out of the dealer- ship on January 11. Frustrated with the company’s unwillingness to cover union health, welfare and pension benefits and confronted with an on-going series of unfair labor practices, they felt that striking was their only option. The shop foreman quit as well.

The mechanics, parts people and detail- ers voted to be represented by IAM Local 1173 on August 1, 1997. In the 18 months since the election, the union has been unable to finalize a first contract with the dealership.

Enough is enough

Shop steward Steve Older explained, “the union picketed this shop for months, and we went into mediation in good faith last November. Just as our bargaining team agreed to settle, the mediator realized that management had left the building. They never thought we’d settle, so they backed out of making a deal.”

Mechanic Jeff Mah was direct: “These are the best cars in the world, but they treat us like dirt. That’s just not acceptable.”

The key economic issues on the table were wages, and signing on to the union health and pension plans. Mechanics also complained of unfair dispatching under the flat rate system. According to striking mechanic Mark Senoren, “union activists get the lower paying jobs, while other mechanics were assigned the easy, high- paying jobs.”

Unfair labor practices

To date, the federal government filed six unfair labor practices charges against the

With more than 700,000 dai- ly riders, Muni is one of the largest carriers of people

Vernon Ting, Usbaldo Gonzalez and Mauro Benedetti at the Flynn facility.

According to Business Rep- resentative Vern Dutton, “This company has used every stall tac- tic in the book. This is the last straw.”

Mechanics Jeff Mah, Mark Gibson, Steve Older and Mark Senoren risk their jobs at Lexus of Concord as they roll their tool boxes out onto the street.

Local 1101 member Cindy Chavez becomes San Jose City Council member  Page 7

The joys of being a shop steward . . . Local 1546 steward fest  Page 3 ShopTalk: 20 stewards describe the best thing about doing it  Pages 4-7

IAM District Lodge 190 7717 Oakport Street Oakland, CA 94621

Periodicals Postage Paid at Oakland, CA

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