BART's Board of Directors yesterday sent the transit agency's already Wagnerian labor imbroglio skittering off the tracks and into a dark and unforeseen place.
In spurning a contract provision providing workers with up to six weeks of paid medical leave -- which management claims was, somehow, erroneously ratified earlier -- BART's directors have set the stage for what could be the third strike of 2013 and resultant transit Armageddon.
At this point, BART management could do just about anything and it wouldn't raise eyebrows. By the time its $399,000 hired gun Tom Hock missed a bargaining session to go to Disneyland -- taking a break from artless, deal-free negotiations to deliver a lecture titled "The Art of Negotiating the Deal" -- any and all Rubicons had been crossed.
So, it might come as little surprise that, on the very day BART's board declared a family leave provision pegged at between $1.4 million and $10.5 million a year too costly, it gratuitously boasted of $128 million in savings via an accelerated train car procurement deal.
Depending on one's mindset regarding the strike -- which has, sadly, resulted in a great deal of Manichean coverage -- this turn of events could be spun any which way.
But them's the facts: BART simultaneously trumpeted massive cost savings while crying poo regarding far, far lower labor costs. You can argue about the rightness of codifying a supposed "error" or note that the savings are also tied to fast-tracking a spectacularly expensive train car procurement. But, once again, BART management managed to stick its foot in its mouth -- which is even more inadvisable after treading through a BART train.
If nothing else, BART management can pride itself on a rarified achievement yesterday. It is now, officially, more agonizing to watch than the answering machine message scene in Swingers.
You take the victories as they come.