Are you someone who's gentle and sweet enough to have believed that the drivers who missed work during The Great Muni Sickout of 2014 were actually ill? Ha ha, just kidding! No one, not even newborn babies, could possibly be that naive.
So let's begin again. As you might recall, from June 2-June 4 of this year, hundreds of Muni drivers called in sick, ostensibly over a protracted contract dispute between SFMTA management and the union that represents the drivers. Though a contract was eventually agreed upon, the SFMTA continues to investigate many of those drivers' sick day claims, according to Matier and Ross, but the consequences any malingering drivers might face are minimal.
On the first night of the three-day sickout, SFMTA Chief of Staff Alicia John-Baptiste sent a memo to all drivers saying that "Operators claiming to be sick today, or in connection with any future “sick out”, will be required to submit adequate verification from their health care provider in order to be eligible to receive paid sick leave today (or during any future 'sick out')."
Fast forward to today, and, reports M&R, of the 762 drivers who called in sick during the three-day epidemic, 387 managed to scare up a doctor's note, while 375 more didn't bother.
The best part of all this: of those absent drivers, 60 were still well enough to go "down to Municipal Transportation Agency headquarters on South Van Ness Avenue to pick up their paychecks on the same day they had called in sick."
It's understandable if the first thing that you might think at this juncture is "wait, so Muni drivers don't have direct deposit?" It's equally understandable that the second thing you might think is "oh, yeah, direct deposit is easy and efficient. Of course they don't."
Now, let's all consider what might happen if we called in sick to our jobs, but seemed healthy enough to drop by work. Would we be fired? Put on probation? Relieved of a vacation day? Hollered at for a while?
Well, then maybe we should have become Muni drivers! Because our sick pals in orange and brown aren't being hit with any of those penalties. Instead, any drivers who apparently lied about their physical well-being, leaving folks stranded all across San Francisco, won't get a paid sick day. That's right, their punishment is that they won't get paid for a day that they did not work.
But first, of course, there must be an investigation, says Susan Gard, policy chief with the city Human Resources Department. Though the 60 "sick" drivers made their paycheck pickups in early June, Guard says "We are still investigating those cases. Some of them may have been excused by a doctor, that's why we have to go through it case by case."
That's Muni for you! Making simple tasks like figuring out how not to pay people who aren't working into a long, slow, painful process. Now I feel sick, too.