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.”



In its latest proposal, the unions have offered to pay 9.2% more for their health insurance.

In other words, instead of paying $92 a month for full coverage for self and all employees, they have offered to pay $101 for the same lavish benefits.

A major concession!

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 7:52 am

and not a flat amount.

BART management must stand firm.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 7:58 am

There are a lot of fallacies being propagated here, with so much repetition and apparent passion that I believe several posters are likely employees of BART's PR firm.

I'll only tackle a couple.

1) "the public covers the salaries of union representatives."

Yes and No. ATU1555 has only one full time union representative, our President/business agent. By agreement BART issues her check, but the union reimburses the district out of the member's dues. We pay our office staff and lawyers directly. The rest of our officials work in their regular job classifications except when they need time off for union business.

2) the trains run themselves, and could do exactly what they do now with no operator if it weren't for union demands"

Um... No.
For the majority of the time passengers are on board the train is operated in Automatic Mode, but that doesn't mean what you think. Most likely your car has both an automatic transmission and cruise control, but it won't get you anywhere without an operator at the controls.

The technology exists to replace many functions performed by train operators, but it hasn't been purchased or implemented by Bart.

Maybe those new cars they want to buy will have better equipment.

3) "BART employees are overpaid!"

I don't know about that. No one has claimed we're starving. As a conservative Republican I absolutely want my elected representatives to work diligently to contain costs (Other than villifying the workers every few years I see no evidence of this at BART.) As a union member I expect my negotiating team to fight to get me the best deal possible. Ideally this opposition will lead to a negotiated agreement that will work for everyone.

The funny thing is that money has never been the major focus of these negotiations. A deal had been reached on wages, pensions, medical etc. when the district negotiator attempted to insert a "management's rights" clause into the contract. This clause would undermine all previous negotiation, and is an absolute non starter. It would be like agreeing to a clause that allowed the buyer of your home to modify any contract terms they felt necessary, such as the price, closing date, included furniture, etc., while leaving you bound to sell. You'd never agree. It was then that the second strike of 2013 was called.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 3:37 am

The problem with contracts is that they constrain the abaility of management to manage, on a day-to-day basis, and that makes the enterprise less efficient.

No private entity would ever survivie if ran in the way that BART is run.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 7:41 am

I can see where you're coming from, but blame it more on incompetent management than the existence of contracts. All commerce is regulated by contracts.

There are complaints of sick leave abuse at BART... rather than investigate and pursue discipline against the abusers, BART management chooses to vilify me for saying yes when I am begged to work overtime to pick up the slack.

There are complaints that employees are lazy and rude. I see it sometimes too, and wish management would manage their employees instead of hiding in an office somewhere. (By the way, while they ignore employee suggestions and complaints, they seem to be fairly responsive to customer complaints, so feel free to let them know when you have a specific, actionable complaint.)

There are complaints that stations and trains are filthy. You'll get no argument from me. I refuse to sit down in the passenger compartment of the train because I've seen every sort of bodily fluid, excretion, and parasite that can come out of or off of the human body on the trains. The solution is the same as above. Managers must manage, not hide in their office towers.

Bart needs to update, renovate, and expand its physical plant. Absolutely! But expecting employees to happily take a pay cut when the agency is experiencing record budget surpluses is insane. Of course there's going to be pushback, it's only human nature.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

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