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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BART Unions to Sue BART Management (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 8:33 AM

click to enlarge Ah, the good 'ol days - FLICKR/STEVE RHODES
  • Flickr/Steve Rhodes
  • Ah, the good 'ol days

Update 11:52 a.m.: Well, it's done -- the unions this morning officially filed a lawsuit against the BART Board of Directors in Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges the following:

  • The Directors broke state law by refusing to ratify the complete contract their authorized agents negotiated and signed. The Board of Directors have withheld ratification of the total contract, claiming that the section on paid family medical leave was signed by mistake by their chief negotiator Thomas Hock, Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier and Labor Relations Manager Rudy Medina. If that were the case, the "mistake" was caused solely by the District's own carelessness and lack of constructive engagement at the bargaining table, which are not grounds for refusing to ratify a total package agreement.

  • The BART Board of Directors broke state law when it refused to execute the complete, final agreement. With the understanding that a complete agreement was reached, the unions called off their second unfair practice strike and ratified the total final package on November 1st.
  • It's unlawful for BART or any employer to sidestep months of negotiations, unilaterally change the terms of a total package agreement, and then offer the modified terms to the union on a take-it-or-leave it basis. BART Directors illegally removed the section on paid family medical leave.
  • Read the full lawsuit and BART's response at the bottom of the story:

    Original Story 8:33 a.m.: BART's largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, fired off a notice to the media this morning, announcing their plans to file a lawsuit against the Bart Board of Directors over its "illegitimate and unprecedented actions regarding the unions' labor contracts."

    In translation: This labor dispute is far from over.

    What this means to the average BART rider remains to be seen. However, the unions are planning to host a press conference at 11 a.m. today to explain the details of this suit.

    As BART riders probably already know, that labor deal that was agreed upon back in October -- the one that got the trains moving again after a four-day strike -- wasn't actually agreeable. After the unions signed off on the new contract, management freaked out over the six weeks of paid family leave, a provision which they seemed to have overlooked when signing off on a tentative deal.

    With that, BART management asked its Board of Directors not to approve the labor contract, claiming the family leave provision would cost the transit agency some $40 million over the next four years. The unions refute that number, saying it would actually be no more than $5 million.

    So on Nov, 21, the BART Board of Directors rejected the deal 8-1, effectively putting BART riders back in limbo. Now it was the unions' turn to freak out -- and they did. They claimed the board's decision was "unlawful" especially since its chief negotiator Tom Hock, along with other important people who presumably know how to read, signed the very agreement the board rejected.

    And that brings us to present day, which now kind of feels similar to being stuck on a non-moving train in the Transbay Tube with no ETA in sight.

    Update: Read the lawsuit:

    ThirdAmendedVerifiedWritPetition BART

    BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

    This unnecessary action will only delay resolution to BART's labor contract. A lawsuit is not needed to correct a mistake. When mistakes are made in contract negotiations they are corrected administratively by the parties, acting in good faith. Fortunately this mistake was caught in time before the mistaken language was brought before the District's Board for ratification.

    For the sake of BART's riders, union leadership should allow workers to vote on the corrected agreement so BART can move forward with a renewed focus on providing safe, reliable and convenient transportation under a fair labor contract.

    This mistake would give BART union employees an additional six weeks of paid leave per year. This additional six weeks of paid leave comes on top of the 3-6 weeks of vacation, 13 paid holidays and 12 sick days that employees already receive annually. District negotiators would never have knowingly agreed to such a financially backbreaking proposal. The union's proposal for six additional weeks of paid leave was twice rejected by the District and then withdrawn by the unions. That withdrawal was reaffirmed by the District. After that point, it was never discussed again.

    BART will review the lawsuit over the next several days.

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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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