Already tense negotiations between BART’s management and its labor unions heated up further today with management alleging that a labor leader filed a false police report claiming that he had been attacked by a customer.
BART management spokeswoman Alicia Trost said, “This incident demonstrates that BART unions are knowingly, and callously, using safety as a fake issue to drum up support for their demands for a 23 percent hike in contract negotiations.”
Trost said station agent George Figueroa, who she said also acts as a union spokesman, filed a police report saying he was struck by a BART patron at an Oakland station on June 8, citing the incident as an example of the safety issues faced by BART union employees.
Trost said Figueroa took three paid days off after the alleged incident and did media interviews “acting as a BART union spokesman making broad claims about the dangers faced by BART union station agents, train drivers and other frontline union employees.”
But Trost said a videotape of the alleged incident indicates that he was never struck by the BART patron and the Alameda District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Mr. Figueroa for filing false police report.
A district attorney’s spokesman said today that no charges have been filed yet but prosecutors anticipate a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report against Figueroa on Monday.
Antonette Bryant, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, said in a statement, “According to the Alameda County DA’s office, they have no record of any such charge being filed this week as BART alleges.”
Bryant said, “Whether BART is making these purported charges up or not, one thing is certain: they are running and hiding from the fact that BART has a serious health and safety problem on their hands.”
She said, “During the past three years alone, BART police have reported 2,246 serious crimes to the FBI at just five of their stations, and yet, BART assigns station agents to work in these stations alone at night. It is not safe and we need BART to take our concerns seriously.”
But Trost said, “This incident is emblematic of what BART management is facing in negotiations with its unions.”
Trost said, “We just want to get a new contract that is fair to our employees, our riders and taxpayers. Instead, apparently, the unions would rather waste the public’s time by creating false stories and delaying getting a fair contract for everyone.”
Talks between BART management and ATU Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1221, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, have moved so slowly that a state mediator was brought in this week to try to get negotiations moving before the unions’ contracts expire on June 30.
The two unions will conduct strike authorization votes on Tuesday and announce their results on Wednesday, Bryant said.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News