San Francisco Riders and Workers Unite for M.O.R.E. Public Transit
“If there are going to be cuts to MUNI, they need to come from the $60 million worth of work orders and bloated management salaries. The bus drivers didn’t cause this problem. The campaign against them is a racist anti-worker distraction,” said Frank Lara, a M.O.R.E. leader and an organizer with the ANSWER coalition, one of about a dozen groups represented in the coalition. Other organizations in the coalition include Transport Workers Union Local 250A (TWU 250A) representing MUNI drivers, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), the Chinese Progressive Association, Urban Habitat, and Senior Action Network.
As M.O.R.E. has grown, it has moved beyond the struggle to maintain and expand MUNI service to addressing broader issues that impact riders and drivers. It has been a leading opponent of the “saturation raids” conducted on MUNI buses by armed San Francisco police officers. Although characterized by MUNI management as attempts to enforce fare payment, the raids have resulted in systematic harassment of immigrants and alleged deportations.
Michelle Xiong, a leader in the Chinese Progressive Association who has seen police targeting the Chinatown bus lines says, “I’m scared to go on the bus now if my bus transfer is even close to the expiration time because the police have been so strict and it’s very intimidating since I don’t speak English fluently.”
M.O.R.E. also opposed Proposition G, which it described as a “political ploy that tries to put the blame of declining public services on the backs of working families.” The measure, which passed with 65 percent of the vote, forces TWU 250A to renegotiate many of its work rules and imposes an arbitration requirement stacked against the union.
“[Prop. G makes] drivers seem like the only reason why Muni doesn’t perform better,” Local 250 President Irwin Lum told Streetsblog. He pointed to bloated executive salaries at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (over $300,000 for CEO Nat Ford, for example) as well as mismanagement that has allowed other city departments to siphon off almost $62 million of MUNI’s funding (www.sfexaminer.com/local/Munis-outside-costs-assailed-84308187.html).
M.O.R.E.’s newest campaign is focused on providing every child and youth in San Francisco with a free MUNI transit pass. With it, M.O.R.E. hopes to broaden its membership and raise awareness of transportation justice issues among groups that don’t focus on public transit but whose members and communities rely on MUNI to get to essential services. (To join the struggle for transportation justice in San Francisco and the Youth Bus campaign, visit http://morepublictransit.net) —MR