Some Muni layoffs postponed for a month

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By Rebecca Bowe

Two dozen Muni parking control officers (PCOs) can hold onto their jobs for another month, the Municipal Transportation Agency Board decided Tuesday. The PCOs are those ever-popular uniformed workers who go around issuing parking citations (maybe you’ve seen the bumper-sticker slogan -- “Good people, Tough jobs” -- just after getting slammed with an outrageous parking ticket). A round of 24 PCO layoffs was previously scheduled to go into effect at the end of this week, as part of midyear cuts made to balance the city budget. But the MTA Board agreed to push the layoff date back to Feb. 26, according to Steve Stallone, a spokesperson for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents the workers. MTA spokesperson Judson True confirmed that the layoffs were postponed.

The PCO layoffs represented a hot topic at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, when a long line of city employees formed during public comment to raise objections. Abraham Davis, a PCO, told supervisors that each officer issues an average of 30 citations a day, which he said brings in roughly $2,000 for the city. Accounting for all 24 workers, “that’s $960,000 a month,” he said, “and that’s a low average.” He described one of his own bad days: “That’s the day I got spit on, almost run over, and came back to the hall with 60 citations,” he said. “Do the math.”

Stallone says today’s MTA Board decision was made because SEIU Local 1021 presented new figures outlining why cutting city workers who generate revenue for the city is a bad business decision. “We crunched the numbers differently,” he told the Guardian. “[MTA] staff just plain had it wrong.” We haven’t heard back yet on how SEIU’s numbers differ from MTA’s numbers -- but it’s clear that the MTA Board is willing to look at what the union brought to the table.

At Sup. Chris Daly’s request, a hearing will be held at Wednesday’s Budget & Finance Committee meeting to discuss Muni layoffs and “the impacts on public health and safety concerns,” according to the meeting agenda. Some of those concerns revolve around the fact that PCOs direct traffic in emergency situations or special events when they aren’t issuing parking tickets, Stallone explained. And since another group of affected Muni workers includes the people who clean the buses, maybe the case will be made that riding around in grimy buses won’t exactly help San Franciscans combat swine flu and other contagious maladies. That’s just a guess. “It’s a good guess,” Stallone said. But he took a broader view, saying, “You’re going to lose ridership if the buses suck.”