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San Francisco cable cars, buses run again, transit agency seeks proof of illness from workers

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SAN FRANCISCO - Cable cars, light- rail trains and buses were running again on Thursday as transit officials in san Francisco sought confirmation from drivers involved in a three-day sickout that they were actually dealing with health issues.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was operating more than 90 per cent of its normal weekday morning service, officials said. The agency serves about 700,000 passengers each day.

"We're certainly hoping the worst is behind us," Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

Transit operators called in sick in large numbers for three straight days starting Monday, reducing service and stalling the cable cars. The sickout came after workers rejected a contract proposal that union officials said would have resulted in a pay cut.

Transit officials have said workers who reported being sick must provide documentation proving the claim to get sick pay. If they don't, they could be subject to discipline, including termination.

The city on Wednesday filed an unfair labour practice charge against the drivers' union — Transport Workers Union Local 250-A — saying its contract forbids strikes and work stoppages.

"This is an unfortunate attempt by the union to get around a law and contract provisions they don't like," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said.

The union's president, Eric Williams, has said the labour group had nothing to do with the sick calls and urged those who called in sick to be prepared to have a doctor's note. A message left for Williams on Thursday seeking comment about the unfair labour practice allegation was not immediately returned.

The contract that workers rejected would have given them a raise of more than 11 per cent over two years. However, it also would have required them to cover a 7.5 per cent pension payment currently paid by the transit agency, said Rose, the agency spokesman.

The contract would have increased operator pay to $32 an hour, making them the second highest-paid transit workers in the country, Rose said.

Williams said other city workers were getting a better pension deal than Muni drivers.

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AP writer Channing Joseph contributed to this report.

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