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Thursday, October 17, 2013

BART to Strike at Midnight (Update)

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 10:39 PM


Update 10:35 p.m.:BART unions issue late-night rant, read below.

Update, 5:47 p.m.: BART describes the rejected package. Read update at the bottom of story.

Original story 5 p.m.: Apparently, BART's hired-gun Tom Hock was doing a better job in Disneyland.

Representatives of the workers' union SEIU 1021 just now issued a press statement saying they will strike at midnight tonight, which means no trains rattling through your neighborhood tomorrow -- and no easy ride to work.

And, as the July strike illustrated, it will also mean greater air pollution, a sudden boon for privatized transportation services, and a hit to the local economy.

"Time and time again, after we made a concession, management would move the goal posts, including now--after reaching a general agreement on economics--demanding changes in work place rules that have historically protected workers from issues like abuse of power, unfair treatment and sexual harassment," SEIU 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez wrote in the union's press release.

Evidently, the battle has veered toward minutiae; the unions say both sides are squabbling over workweek scheduling and rules.

Meanwhile, BART's general manager Grace Crunican struck back with her own press statement, in which she outlined the package deal that wasn't.

"The package is a 3% raise per year for a total of a 12%, with a chance to earn up to $1000 a year if ridership grows. It calls for contributions of 4% for pension and 9.5% for medical." She adds that such concessions aren't just generous, they're good for both sides.

Federal mediators have said publicly that there's nothing more for them to do. Let's just hope they catch BART to the airport before midnight.

If you need to get across the Bay tomorrow, BART is offering limited charter bus service from 9 East Bay stations. There are also several carpool lanes available for high-occupancy vehicles, as well as bike routes provided by East Bay and San Francisco Bicycle Coalitions.

Of course, we recommend telecommuting, because if BART's striking, you should, too.

Update: SEIU Local 1021 Executive director Pete Castelli issued the following statement at 10:15 p.m.:

I'm surprised and sorry to be standing here tonight. In all my years in the Labor movement, I've never seen an employer drive negotiations that were this close to a deal into a strike. After a marathon 28-hour bargaining session, BART's two largest unions thought they had the final framework for a deal.

We met BART's demands on pensions.

We met BARTs demands on health care benefits.

We had the outline of a deal on wages.

We offered to send unresolved work rule issues to voluntary binding interest arbitration.

But after telling the public that their main goal at the bargaining table was saving money to buy new trains, BART management blew up negotiations by insisting that employees sacrifice workplace protections in exchange for economic well-being. This was a poison pill for workers: choose between your paycheck and your rights.

We had a rough deal on economics. We can't believe BART is willing to incite a strike over their professed desire to implement an electronic pay stub system and handheld computers in the workplace.

This is ridiculous.

BART became the top-rated transit system in America with its current work rules.

BART increased ridership from 270,000 riders to 400,000 riders per day with its current work rules.

What's more, BART never focused on performance or efficiency issues during bargaining and repeatedly acknowledged that productivity in the system had increased. The fact is that the system is carrying more passengers than ever with fewer frontline workers than ever.

The rules we're focused on protect basic rights. Like the 8-hour workday. Like past practice language that protect our workers from punishment and retribution when they report favoritism, sexual harassment and other problems in the workplace.

In the end, we're willing to let a neutral third-party arbitrator help both sides work through the differences on work rules and reach final agreement on the economic package discussed on the last 28-hour bargaining session.

Despite reports that BART General Manager Grace Crunican and Board Chair Tom Radulovich are trying to meet with our union, I want to confirm that neither has contacted me nor the other top staff of the union to restart talks since bargaining broke up this afternoon.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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