BART union leaders said today that striking employees would return to work and get the transit system’s trains running by 10 p.m. tonight if management met a series of conditions.
One of the key proposals by leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 is that outstanding work rule issues be submitted to arbitration.
However, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement earlier today that management would only consider arbitration if it involved all issues with its unions, including wages and employees’ contributions for their health care and retirement benefits.
Speaking at a news conference in Oakland, union leaders said they commit to what they’ve already agreed to with management on retirement costs, health care costs and an “economic framework” that includes wages.
The union officials said they would recommit to all of the tentative agreements they have already reached on a variety of work rules and are asking management to accept the unions’ compromise language on past workplace practices.
They said their so-called “Riders First Plan” would also return to existing language on all outstanding general proposals.
In a statement, union leaders told management, “We urge you to sign this Riders First Plan so trains can be running by 10 p.m. today.”
BART officials weren’t immediately available for comment on the unions’ proposal.
But at a briefing with reporters earlier today, BART officials, who didn’t want their names used, said that although progress had been made in contract talks before they broke off on Thursday there never was an agreement on money issues.
BART officials said talks involved “an all-or-nothing deal” that called for an agreement on all issues, including management’s proposed work rule changes.
A management official said, “There’s no such thing as an agreement unless everything is agreed to.”
Veteran train operator Chris Finn, who is one of the chief negotiators for ATU Local 1555, said the unions and management were “within inches of the deal” before talks broke down on Thursday.
Finn asked BART management to agree to the proposal so “we can fairly get those trains running again.”
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News