BART negotiations continue as unions withhold strike threat UPDATED

Another BART strike could cripple the Bay Area.

With the 60-day cooling off period ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown coming to an end on Thursday, raising the specter of another Bay Area Rapid Transit shutdown, BART’s two main unions announced yesterday that they were holding off on calling a strike for now. [UPDATE 10/11: BART unions today issued a 72-hour strike notice, meaning they could strike on Monday].

“We’ve listened to the public and we share their concern about a disruption in service at the end of the cooling-off period.  We do not want to strike. That is why we’re not giving a 72-hour notice at this time, because we want to leave every opportunity open to try to get this deal done. Of course we are keeping all options on the table,” Service Employee International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 said in a joint statement.

Some media reports indicate that there has finally been some progress in the long-stalled negotiations, with a framework on pensions being agreed to, although the two sides still seem far apart on wages, benefits, and the length of the contract.

The unions cast it this way: “To this point of doing everything possible to avoid a strike: over the past 10 days, the unions have moved publicly three times, to BART’s zero times. If this were a score in the baseball playoffs – we, the Oakland A’s would be three and they, the Detroit Tigers would be zero. 

“At this point, if there is a disruption in service at the end of the cooling-off period, it will be for one reason and for one reason alone: our elected BART leadership has not shown leadership.”

BART Board President Tom Radulovich disputed that the concessions have been one-sided, but he said that, “They continue to want to negotiate in the media and we’re not really down with that.”

Asked to characterized where things stand and the prospects for resolving the impasse without another strike, Radulovich said, “We’re still cranking away and trying to get it done...It’s really not up to us whether there’s a strike or not. We just have to get this done.”

Meanwhile, while conservatives clamor to use the situation to get the Democrat-controlled Legislature to ban unions from striking (good luck with that one), Sup. John Avalos held a hearing yesterday at City Hall to examine some of the larger issues at play in the impasse, such as retirement security, that the Guardian covered in our July 9 issue.

Asked how the hearing went, Avalos told the Guardian, “We talked a lot about how BART has been villifying workers in the court of public opinion in an effort to weaken workers’ bargaining power.”



What's more amusing is how you don't see how it plays into my hands.

Go on - take a guess why.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

you help me do so

so by all means continue

Posted by hgwells on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

second page, it becomes clear that you are wrong

Posted by beluga on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

Point taken. Management is overcompensated too

Posted by Jane on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 7:31 am

management is *vastly* overpaid in comparison to workers which explains the high end average salary and benefits

and $110k isn't even that high

which means the workers get crap compared to management

which explains well why they are threatening to strike

Posted by racer x on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 8:17 am
Posted by jwi on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 11:30 am

let's be fair

Posted by mdma on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 11:02 am

Stop being ridiculous!!!! Bart workers like all workers deserve good benefits a d safe working conditions

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 1:09 am

Nor almost free healthcare.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

and will probably respond readily to being trolled

(wages and benefits are all forms of pay you fucking idiot, and have nothing to do with free anything)

Posted by ghar on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

package for a semi-skilled (at best) job that requires no college.

60K, with nothing else, is a fair compensation.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

If you, as a taxpayer or rider, pay my wages, then you will continue to pay the full cost of my pension and medical care whether we move it around on my nice paper pay stub or not.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

Do the 1%ers need retirement plans?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 6:42 am

a retirement plan allow deductions which can reduce the burden of that taxation.

Better to save in a tax-sheltered account with tax deductions, than try and save the same amount through regular, taxable savings.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 7:42 am
Posted by ghr on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
Posted by brampah on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 10:50 am

BART exists to get the commuters into their downtown offices.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

Once newspapers published what these public employees were paid INCLUDING benefits - they were done.

Transparency is the issue.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

The city would gain a lot more by him as supervisor if he just held a flag for a paving crew or something like that.

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. BART and our political class knows where most of the public stands on this.

Now that we have good transparency (thanks SJ Mercury!) on how well BART and other public employees are compensated ($117K annually on average for BART employees), the public is going to start asking more questions.

Here's one: Why does BART (and hence Bay Area taxpayers) pay the salaries of BART union representatives? This is crazy. BART employees don't pay for their own pensions, they don't pay for their own health insurance (well, not exactly true, they pay $92 a month) and they don't pay for their own union representation (the public covers those salaries).

Posted by Guest lecturer on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:25 am

union salaries thru payroll deductions?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 7:23 am

$117K average compensation is indeed very high.

For most workers, compensation consists of salary + the 7.5% of Social Security paid for by the employer + some limited healthcare coverage (maybe) + any bonus/401-K you are lucky to get comped for.

For BART employees, it is: salary + a defined-benefit pension plan (just like for corporate CEOs) get that guarantees 8% compounded interest annually and averages $17,500 per year + full health coverage for self and family at $92 a month + comp for all unused sick days + an extra pension dip covered by BART + quite often, a promotion-bump just before retirement to put you in a higher job bracket.

I ask all SFBG readers to answer yourself this question: What is your annual compensation? Probably salary + .7.5% of Social Security covered by your employee + some limited healthcare coverage. Does it add up to $117K? Probably not.

Posted by Guest lecturer on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

for raising the pay and benefits of *everyone* in the Bay Area to $117k

including all of the rank and file BART workers who make much less than that....

Posted by racer x on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

Who would you like to pay for that?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

because all of those mid level workers being paid a lot more money would spend almost all of it into the local economy

which really would be a tide that raises all boats and would create multipliers and tax revenues that would balance the costs

as to how to kick it off financially in the first place, that's obvious

put the rich back into a 70-90 percent tax bracket and tax corporate profits a lot more

(now by all means respond with all of the stupid market fundamentalist idiocy that you always trot out at this juncture)

Posted by racer x on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

the good times will roll again?

Woo hoo, yay baby. The smartest economists on the planet have been pondering this issue for millenia and all they needed to do was ask you!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

and myriad economists and capitalists throughout history have said so

"make sure you pay workers enough so that they can spend enough in the economy to buy what is produced"

this is economics 101 and was both touted and powerfully utilized by Henry Ford, one of the most successful capitalists of all time

but I guess you're just too smart for nonsense from people like Henry Ford....

Posted by racer x on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:49 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

"It would pay for itself"

Yes, perks do not have to be paid for. This is money that falls from the sky. You fly around on your unicorn and pick it up.

THE PUBLIC has to pay for it. The GENERAL FUND. And this is why tax dollars that should be going to schools, to libraries, to road-building, to the poor, is instead pumped into public-sector pension payouts.

The reformers are merely asking that BARTies et all pay more than 0% of their own pension costs, pay more than $92 a month for their own healthcare. "Vastly" underfunded schemes....

...steering cities and counties toward bankruptcy.

Posted by Karl on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

Racer X thinks the gov. needs only to print more money! All problems solved (can I hand Racer one of those Nobel prizes for Economics on the shelf over there?).

Posted by Karl on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:32 pm


and the Fed is already printing money out of nothing hand over fist in exactly the way you describe and it is destroying the global economy

Posted by racer x on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

relocate and you just have less wealth to redistribute.

I cannot believe that people still believe that you can tax everyone into prosperity. It's as if Laffer never lived.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

Thanks racer x. So printing more money solves all problems.

Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe i thought so too.

Posted by Jane on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:55 am

Obama, Lew and Bernanke are printing dollars by the billion.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:27 am

Steven T Jones said:
""Package" and "salary" are quite different, and BART median salaries are right around the area median wage. Bash them if you want, but these are working class people just like most of us.

They are certainly NOT around the Bay Area median. They are great package deals.

What's your annual compensation Steven T. Jones? Is it $117K? Is Herr Bruce plomping down $15K into your retirement plan each year? Is he paying all health insurance premiums plus health costs for you and all of your family for $92 a month? Is Herr Bruce paying you 1.5x overtime while giving you 20 days of vacation a year? Is he doing all of this stuff from his retirement barca-lounger with the millions he made by selling his building?

BART employees are not working-class. They are upper-middle-class and privileged.

Posted by Jane on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

those at the median of skills, education and experience.

A median is not a minimum.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Total compensation is not the relevant gauge, gross income is. Most workers have not idea how much they actually cost their employers, but $117,000 is right in the ballpark for those making the area median income for San Francisco, which is $70,850 according to the figures for 2013. What's the median income for a BART worker represented by the two unions now in negotiations: it's about $62,000, according to the unions. And the reason it's so low is because BART offered generous pension contributions in the '90s in lieu of raises. So you can denigate and demonize BART and other public sector union workers all you want, but calling them "upper-middle-class and privileged" is just ridiculous. 

Posted by steven on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

what it would cost to replace them.

Everyone admits that people are clamoring for those BART jobs, and that those who have them never quit.

So obviously their package is too high however you divide it up.

Remember, BART trains are automatic and the system was designed to not have operators at all. That there are drivers was a union concession.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

Steven, do you understand the difference between defined-benefit penson plans and defined-contribution plans? The former promise guaranteed compounded annual returns (7-8% for most public employees). These sweet deals were made in the 1990s when it was assumed that the stock market would keep rising 10% annually forever. But the market rose 0% in 2000-2010....

...and publc-sector workers kept getting the huge payoffs, creating huge shortfalls. The % of general funds that should be going to SERVICES is instead going into public pensions.

And bankruptcy looms unless real reform is passed. Look over your shoulder.Do you see Stockton back there?

Posted by Karl on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

"" but $117,000 is right in the ballpark for those making the area median income for San Francisco, which is $70,850 according to the figures for 2013.""

Steven, yes, the median "salary" may be $70K, yes. The median annual compensation certainly is not. BARTies and all public employees have defined-benefit pension plans (along with corporate CEOs) that boost their compensation package well above the median.

Do you know what a defined-benefit pension plan is? I can teach you if you are still confused.

Posted by Jane on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:02 am

So we should not be shocked that he thinks people who "drive" automatic trains should get 120K plus.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:28 am

...and you're a journalist?

"Most workers have no idea what they cost their employers?"

So it's not what you are paid that matters, it's what you THINK you are paid? Wow- frightening. By your logic, BART workers are so dense that we should just switch all from defined benefit to 401k pension plans because they won't care. Could then lower fares!

And please stop with "demonize" talking point because you can't grapple with basic math and don't understand that the benefit largess drives higher fares for the middle-class who need BART to get to work, the middle-class who don't enjoy gold-plated health and pension benefits. Your ignorance is a bit annoying.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 8:28 am

Yes, very tough to get into BART.

But time to strike!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

fire their no-good asses and replace them with some of the thousands of people who want those jobs but are not so greedy and lazy.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

The average for a 2 bedroom apartment in SF is now over $3,000

The median price for a home in SF now exceeds 1 million dollars

Just to cover basic needs, a family of four needs an income of $74,000

95% of the income gains from 2009-2012 went to households whose income is in the top 1 percent

Meanwhile the bankers on Wall Street (as well as foreign banks) get $40 billion per month on Quantitative Easing at near 0% interest for their worthless mortage-backed securities just to prop their balance sheet up.

The issue is not shortage of money, especially as the Federal Reserve keeps creating it (no QE tapering in sight) if you're a banker, high net worth investor, or hedge fund.

Either pay the BART train operators (and other BART union employees) enough so they can provide for their families (and not have to go into debt doing so and not have to work so many hours just to make ends meet) or establish strict price controls (Rent, Mortgage, Food, Energy, Clothing).

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

irrelevant. What are the rents and home prices in Walnut Creek, Pleasanton and Concord? That is where BART employees are more likely to live, especially as they presumably get free BART travel!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

Yes, $117K in annual compensation is not enough to live on. We should make the Koch brothers pay some of these salaries and benefits

Posted by Racer X on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:52 am

It matters what their job is worth to an employer.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:15 am

"BART Board President Tom Radulovich disputed that the concessions have been one-sided, but he said that, “They continue to want to negotiate in the media and we’re not really down with that.”"

"Not really down with that"? Aside from sounding like something a Marina 'bro' wearing a popped-collar polo shirt would say:

1. BART is a public transit agency and its board is elected by popular vote.
2. BART riders, as well as both parties to the contract at hand, have a vested interest in related negotiations.
3. So: Elected officials spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to fight unions + potential chaos arising from yet another BART strike = entirely newsworthy. In fact, there's no reason the unions shouldn't leverage the media, especially considering BART's relentless efforts to scupper the collective bargaining process.

Also, accusing the other side of talking to the press inappropriately...during an interview with a reporter? Not exactly taking the high road. More like amateur hour.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

BART full-time union reps officially work for BART. Their salaries are covered by the taxpayer. This needs to change. It's outrageous.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

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