This is the text of some literature that AS militants made from interviews with a bus driver in the San Francisco public transit system, MUNI. We’re posting both as an example of the method we use for investigating conditions and turning the results into agitation, and to ask for thoughts from our comrades on the information/intervention here.
Inter v iew w ith a M U N I o p e r a tor : W o r k e r s ’ H e a lth A n d
This interview from a brother who’s worked as a MUNI operator for more than ten years is one powerful and particular expression of how bosses exploit workers for profit, leaving us physically and psychologically maimed. It reveals how at the same time that passengers have seen fares double in recent years and the elimination of bus lines, the men and women behind the wheel are also feeling the effects of austerity. This operator’s experience reflects the daily lives of millions of other workers around the world who also face cuts to social services, racist police brutality, attacks on basic political freedoms under the scapegoat of “terrorism,” and an overall capitalist assault on the minds and bodies of working people. Nevertheless, where there is oppression, there is also resistance. We must take pride in and study the current militant struggles Palestinian and Egyptian transport workers wage with other workers in their countries to topple hated
pro-imperialist regimes and achieve genuine independence and liberation. In the Middle East and in San Francisco, the common relationship working-class people of all religions and nationalities share in the act of riding public transportation provides a needed space and platform to organize around our common class interests. One issue that stands out is what seems to be a vicious cycle between a speedup of the pace of work, a lack of break time, excessive disciplining of workers that take sick days, expensive medical coverage, and obstacles to getting medical clearance. What issues do you see? What issues affect you as a MUNI passenger, or as a worker in San Francisco, that might be resolved through a united struggle of workers from many different workplaces that face common problems? Send us an email and let us know.
Question: We heard from some MUNI operators that management has cut down the number of sick days to only 3 days per year, with operators facing discipline including suspension if they take more than 3 days in a 12 month period. What is going on here?
Answer: “That’s not really accurate – here management has not adhered to their own sick day Chapter
12W. They had an article in the examiner about it last week. San Francisco is one of the cities that allows for employees to take sick leave and be paid. All employees have that right. Here we can accumulate the hours and we are supposed to be able to take them without penalty. This ordinance is on the books but the city itself isn’t adhering to it. Operators are increasing harassed and threatened for using their accumulated sick time. There is no rule that covers anything other than what 12W covers which is for paid sick time. Sick leave is the only way to get time off. When they make threats against operators for using their sick time, well there is no other way for operators to rest their body to recover from fatigue, except for using the available sick hours… There are also laws and rules that say we are not supposed to drive if we are sick…. The other thing is Absence rule 420, which requires that you bring a doctor’s note. Neither one of those spell-out any type of discipline….There is no pie in the sky to look forward to. Every other transit system, AC, SAMTRANS, GG transit, has miss out days where operators can call in for a day to rest and recuperate. MUNI doesn’t have that. There is no way for operators to get time off to rest and recuperate. There is no relief in sight for an operator with extra stressed going on in his life.”
Posted in Bay Area Class Struggle, Workers' Inquiry
Tagged budget cuts, california, inquiry, labor, muni, san francisco, speedup, Unions, workers, workplace health and safety
We received this flyer from comrades who have been distributing it to workers in San Francisco. The SF-MTA is currently taking the money they’ve received from selling advertising space
on MUNI buses and donating it to the
Human Rights Commission. While this attempt at liberalism is appalling, what we should be focusing on is finding the instances of workers struggle on the shop floor.
If what follows is any indication of what is possible (or what is already happening) then we should be keeping our eyes open for workers taking direct action against being exploited as proletarian bus drivers AND now as movers of portable Zionist propaganda. Additionally, we should pay attention to Arab, Muslim, and Sikh workers who are struggling on the shop floor – particularly in the custodial sector in San Francisco. International solidarity must – and already is – going beyond symbolic statements and becoming a material force where workers refuse the alienation of work and the imposition of Zionist propaganda and symbols within the labor process.
Props to comrades for putting in the work – intellectually and on the streets.
A Classwide Appeal in Response to Racist Ads on MUNI
It is time to view attacks on workers and oppressed populations not as isolated events, but as calculated measures in maintaining the rule of the global ruling class. We must envision strategies for fighting back that put us not in categories of victimization, but in solidarity with the international ranks of the working class. City expenditures on ads and public relations campaigns exceed millions of dollars, yet they enforce austerity and tell us they will close down our public schools and take away our benefits. The historical moment demands we respond to these attacks on a class-wide basis! Riders, drivers, students, and workers across sectors and communities must unite!
Racism on MUNI and the class-wide support we need
SEIU Local 87, a service workers union, is devising a new contract with the ABM Corporation, in which basic benefits are being jeopardized. In the last couple weeks, rank and file leaders have stood up against these attacks and even been arrested in civil disobedience. Many janitors involved in this union are from the Arab community. Unveiled last week, SFMTA approved MUNI ads, paid for by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative to run on the side of our city’s buses. These ads come at the time that we have seen numerous hate attacks targeting Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs; there have been at least 8 incidents in the past 10 days across the country. Last week, after the second attempt in a month, an Islamic Center in Missouri was burned down. In the same week, four days after US congressman Rep. Walsh proclaimed in a public speech that “radical Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week”, a Mosque in a Chicago suburbwas shot at with a high-velocity air rifle while 500 worshippers were insidefor evening prayers during the Holy month of Ramadan. On the same day this advertisement ran on San Francisco buses, a mosque in Ontario, California found the limbs of a dismembered pig on the building’s front steps. And right here in the Bay Area, this past Thursday marked the fourth time in the last eight months that a Hayward mosque was targeted by vandals, this time resulting in one person injured. The ads on MUNI read:
“In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.”
Today, MUNI drivers are exposed to draconian disciplinary measures like security cameras on the buses and threats of firing for taking a certain number of sick days or breaks even if it falls well within the quota outlined in the contract. The practices of management attempt to control resistance and create a culture of fear that has its roots in 1976 when workers organized in response to the City’s attempt to take away their right to strike.