Today, I took the #5 Muni down to Jury Duty (It’s not that bad. They now have WiFi). I don’t normally take Muni but it’s kind of cool that both the court house and my house are blocks from the stop. Anyway, as I was boarding the bus, I noticed a white, legal size piece of paper on every seat. The piece of paper was an open letter to Muni riders about some recent press about Muni drivers getting “bonuses”
Getting Someone’s Attention
Most people, when they get on Muni, are deeply engrossed in their own world. The headphones are in, the latest edgy rag is flipped open. Today, it was different. Everyone on this bus was reading this open letter. There was probably 40 people reading it. Not just skimming it but actually reading it. Kind of amazing considering most people complain about Muni.
To be honest, I am not a big fan of unions. For me, unions owe their existence to management malpractice. How else can you explain the outsourcing of a critical management job? Anything that gets in the way of managers directly managing labor, just seems wrong to me. This Muni letter, from Transport Workers Union, Local 250-A, changed my mind a bit. The letter is well written, a bit snarky and has great data on this whole issue of Muni “bonuses” from the unions perspective. It had an impact on me. I have no idea if the facts are right but it definitely made me think of the plight of the typical Muni driver and how tough a job they have.
Crafting the Message for a Captive Audience
Even though my fellow riders and I had other things to read, we were drawn to this simple, one page statement that laid out why the union thought that both The Chronicle and Supervisor Elsbernd unfairly treated them. Solid arguments win out over yelling every time.
Since we are Muni riders and a potential strike would clearly disrupt our lives, it was a welcome comment that this particular union (because of Proposition G), had not had a strike over a new contract in over 41 years. This to me demonstrates that they are reasonable and rational people that just want what is fair. So, even though they had a captive audience, they could have easily turned us all off by being too “over the top” in attacking The Chronicle and Supervisor Elsbernd (although, their comment about the “champion of working people” was kinda low).
What do You Think?
If you live in San Francisco and take Muni, what do you think? Did this letter on the Muni today sway your opinion? Is it over the top? A captive audience is a double edge sword. If your message is messy and poor, you can get awful PR. If it’s crisp and lays out solid arguments, it can give you a huge boost. Every business should take heed in the power and potential liability of captive audiences.
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