Keep BART Running [SEIU 1021]
It's hard to believe, but after two strikes and six months of negotiations, the BART negotiation saga is still being written. No one is likely to be happy with the ending, either.
After six months of contentious negotiations, two strikes and, finally, a hard-won labor agreement, BART's two largest unions are not about to give in.
What BART management calls a pricey error in the recently approved deal with its unions could end up being costly for the transit system’s riders and the Bay Area, especially if any future fervid negotiations fail and lead to another strike. The transit system needs to contain the fallout from this oversight by highly paid professionals on its team instead of pushing it back onto anyone else.
The unraveling of the transit agency's contract deal with its unions is yet another example of why Grace Crunican is not qualified for her job.
Immediately after reaching a deal that ended last month's transit strike, some of BART's top managers were privately insisting they got the better end of the bargain. They claimed to be actually happy with the public perception that they caved in giving workers a 15.4 percent raise over four years.
San Francisco transit officials are calling for a return to the bargaining table, saying an expensive provision was "erroneously" included in a labor contract that settled a union dispute that had caused two recent strikes.
Members of a Bay Area Rapid Transit labor union that went out on strike twice in recent months overwhelmingly ratified a contract agreement that officials said will increase pay and lead to improved safety conditions.
It was a waiting game that drove the Bay Area to heights of frustration as strike deadlines came and went and then a four-day work stoppage on BART’s 104-mile commuter rail system sent commuters scrambling -- for the second time in four months.
Workers Announce General Understanding Reached on Economics in Contract Negotiations, but Management Insists on Stripping Workers of Fundamental Workplace Protections. Union would agree to binding interest arbitration to settle scheduling key outstanding issues.
Earlier this evening, the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, George Cohen, made the following statement regarding BART negotiations:
“Negotiations have been continuing. The parties are totally engaged. Some progress has been made, and the parties have authorized me—as they had on the two prior nights—to advise that, in their interest and for the good of the public interest, trains will be running for the day tomorrow.”
Tonight Roxanne Sanchez, President of BART’s largest union, SEIU 1021, released the following statement:
“We truly understand the riders’ frustration, because we share the same frustration that we’ve not yet reached an agreement.
But we are encouraged by the progress we’ve achieved, and at the request of the federal mediators, we will continue to bargain. We are prepared to bargain for another day to reach an agreement. There will be no disruption in service on Wednesday. ”
SEIU 1021 Responds to California Elected Leaders’ Call to Bargain for an Additional Day to Avert a Strike at BART
Oakland, CA – In response to California and Bay Area elected leaders’ request to BART to continue bargaining to avert a strike, Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021 issued the following statement:
Bargaining teams for BART’s unions, SEIU 1021, ATU 1555, AFSCME 3993 released the following statement on the state of negotiations:
Workers Demand BART General Manager Grace Crunican Bargain with Workers to Avoid a Strike and to Reach an Agreement Before End of the Cooling-Off Period
More progress in the long and arduous BART labor struggle was made in a single day Thursday than in the preceding two months, as both sides traded new contract proposals.
Unions’ Latest Wage Proposal Connects Compensation to the Increased Ridership at BART
BART Workers Blast BART Officials for Allowing Labor Negotiator to Charge First Class Air Travel, Alcohol and Parties at Other Transit Agencies to Taxpayers and Riders
New Report Details BART Chief Negotiator Thomas Hock’s Extravagant Meals and Luxurious Travel Accommodations Paid on the Public’s Dime
BART has paid about $3,400 a day for an Ohio-based transit attorney to represent the agency in its ongoing labor negotiations, which appear to be heading off the rails again with a second strike looming next week.
In October 2012, BART hired Thomas Hock of Veolia Transportation as a labor consultant. By the time negotiations with the agency’s unions began April 1 — by which time Hock had been hired on as BART’s chief negotiator with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, the two largest unions — he had already racked up more than $82,500 in bills, records show.
Hock’s contract allows him to be paid a maximum of $399,000. He was halfway there by June 11 — almost three weeks before BART’s workers went on strike July 1 — with $198,400.12 billed to BART for 58 days’ worth of work, or an average of $3,400 per day, records show.
That tally includes his $350-per-hour consulting fee, along with a hotel room in Union Square, first-class airfare and wine at East Bay restaurants, according to records.
Hock’s tally for meals, flights and accommodations hit $36,175 by mid-June, according to records. That’s about what an entry-level BART custodian takes home in a year after taxes, union members say.
Reached Monday afternoon, Hock said that any alcohol expenses should have been subtracted from his reimbursements by BART and that any first-class tickets were “automatic upgrades” from the airlines.
Most of Hock’s wine purchases were not charged to BART, but a few, such as two glasses at Trader Vic’s on June 5, snuck through.
“They can go back and adjust it; it’s not a problem,” Hock said of the wine.
It’s not typical BART policy to reimburse for alcohol or meals in excess of $50. Members of BART’s board of directors, for example, can charge the district for meals but not for drinks, according to the agency’s guidelines.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Monday that Hock’s expenses would be adjusted accordingly.
Meanwhile, little progress has been made at the negotiating table since an August strike was averted by a 60-day cooling-off period ordered by a judge at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.
The two sides even disagree on how long the new contract should be. BART is offering its unions 2.5 percent annual raises over a four-year contract; the unions, who say that bump would leave wages flat when coupled with increased pension and health care costs, want 4.5 percent raises each year over a three-year deal.
As of mid-June, the agency had shelled out $198,401 to Ohio-based transit attorney Thomas P. Hock for 463.5 hours’ of work.
$350 an hour for 463.50 hours: $162,225
The transit agency contends that it has offered employees a generous 10-percent pay bump over four years, but in real dollars, BART workers' wages could actually go down.
The train controllers in BART's Control Center move hundreds of thousands of people a day and 60 trains during peak commute, with more than 1,200 passengers per train at speeds of more than 70 mph. Train controllers work tirelessly to ensure the safety and movement of high-speed trains, with an average 95 percent of an on-time rate.