BART General Manager Grace Crunican said today that management wants to change work rules for its employees in order to save money and make the transit system operate more efficiently.
Crunican said work rules for one of BART’s unions, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, are 465 pages long.
In a brief statement to reporters at BART headquarters in Oakland, Crunican said, “You can’t run a railroad with this book of rules.”
She said, “It’s common sense that when technology changes, everyday work rules need to change as well.”
Crunican, who didn’t take any questions from reporters, said management is ready to resume contract talks in hopes of ending a strike by employees that began today.
“Our negotiator has been in contact with the mediator and BART stands ready to resume negotiations at any time,” she said.
When leaders of ATU Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, announced on Thursday that workers would go on strike, they alleged that management derailed contract talks by asking for major work rule changes this week.
But BART officials said today that management has been asking for work rule changes since contract negotiations began in April and they didn’t ask for any additional changes this week.
The management officials, who briefed reporters but didn’t want their names used, said the changes they are seeking would save tens of millions of dollars a year and help BART pay for the wage increases it is offering to employees as well as set aside money to pay for improving the transit system in the future.
BART officials said work rule changes would help them reduce overtime costs, which they said were $24 million last year just for ATU Local 1555 employees.
Management said they want to have the flexibility to have the schedule for some jobs to be for ten hours a day for four days a week and other jobs be for eight hours a day for five days a week, depending on the nature of the job.
BART officials said four ten-hour shifts make the most sense for workers who do important maintenance work when there is limited or no train service late at night and on weekends because they want to take full advantage of that time window.
But five eight-hour shifts are better for other jobs, they said.
BART officials said they actually want some train operators to
work 15 or 30 minutes of overtime five days a week so the operators can complete two roundtrips each day.
They said it would be inefficient if the train drivers worked four ten-hour shifts because there would then be at least an hour of wasted time every day.
BART officials said they also would like to change the work rules for so-called “extra board” train operators who fill in for regular train operators who call in sick or who don’t come to work for other reasons, such as if they’re undergoing training.
Management officials said the work rules mandate that the extra train drivers can’t report to most BART stations but only to one of four maintenance yards in the system.
BART officials cited the example of an extra train operator who reports to the Hayward maintenance yard instead of to the Dublin station, which is the endpoint of one of the transit system’s routes.
The extra driver gets paid for traveling on BART to and from the Dublin station as well as two hours of “penalty time,” BART officials said.
They told reporters they want to change that rule because it is “grossly inefficient and is wasteful and unnecessary.”
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News