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.”