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Thursday, November 21, 2013

BART to Vote on Labor Deal Today (Update)

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:47 PM

click to enlarge Irritating. - FLICKR/TERRAPLANNER
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  • Irritating.

Update 12:38 p.m.: The BART Board did approve the labor contract this afternoon -- sort of. The board voted 8-1 to sign off on the deal without the controversial paid family leave provision in there. Uh oh. That means the deal now has to go back to the unions to agree to without that paid family medical leave clause, which BART management claims it overlooked when agreeing to the tentative deal. Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021, issued the following statement following the BART Board's vote:

We're disappointed that the BART Board of Directors had decided not to fulfill their commitment to the workers and the riders by approving contracts without the provision on family medical leave. The unions have voted on and ratified these contracts in their entirety.

The Board's vote does not lead to reaching an expeditious resolution but to further confusion. We've been willing to discuss the implementation of the disputed provision, but BART Management and the Board of Directors have chosen to prolong the process and hold the fate of the riders, the workers, and the Bay Area in the balance. They've cited over-inflated costs of family medical leave that would allow workers to care for gravely ill family members or bond with newborn or newly-adopted children.

Right now we are considering all options, meeting with workers who have ratified this contract, and working to find a way to reach a resolution to BART management's alleged mistake in the agreement it made with its workers.

BART Board President Tom Radulovich issued his own statement, explaining the Board's decision:

Today the BART Board of Directors voted 8 to 1 to accept the $67 million offer that was agreed to at the bargaining table with our unions. We hope the unions will take the agreement minus the six weeks of additional paid leave that was mistakenly included in the final document, back to their members.

Simply put, the District cannot afford to give its employees another six weeks of paid leave, on top of the generous leave already allowed in the BART employee benefit package.

If the union members ratify the contract minus the mistaken proposal, the Board also gives the General Manager authority to sign the contract without another Board vote.

Sigh. We'll keep you posted on what all this really means for commuters (that'd be you).

Original Story 8:08 a.m: Later today, the BART Board of Directors either will sign off on the labor contract that's kept the trains running -- or they won't.

And if they don't, well, get your cars tuned up -- just in case.

At issue is the family leave provision, which BART management says was slipped into the contract -- or at least they never saw it. The provision would allow BART employees six weeks of paid annual leave to care for sick family members. That sounds nice for BART's families, but not so great for BART's budget. According to management that could cost $44 million over the next four years. Of course, the union's math comes up with a different -- much lower -- figure.

It's unclear whether BART management didn't read the contract closely or how this provision was overlooked when both sides agreed to the tentative deal that ended the four-day strike back in October. "The Board is disappointed that this error occurred and was not caught earlier. All aspects of the matter will be fully investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action will be taken," BART said in a statement earlier this week.

Regardless, BART management has asked the Board of Directors not to approve this deal. The unions approved the agreement earlier this month.

At the same time, both unions -- SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 -- are asking the board sign off on the damn thing and be done with it.

"It is our expectation that the Board of Directors will honor the agreement that their chief negotiator, assistant manager and labor relations manager made with the unions. We expect the Board to meet their responsibility to the workers and to the riders and approve this contract.

In the context of the Board approving the contract, we are willing, through the mediator, to meet and discuss the implementation of the family medical leave provision, including its cost."

So there you have it -- another excuse to be grumpy today.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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