It Might Be Over: BART Management And Union Reach Tentative Contract Agreement (Again)

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 announced early this morning that a tentative agreement on outstanding contract items had been reached with BART management.

With the assistance of the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service, ATU will ask its members to ratify the agreement after the BART Board of Directors votes to approve it.

President of ATU 1555 Antonette Bryant said in a statement released this morning, “We expect the BART Board will now do its part and do what they should have done all along… approve this contract.”

The remaining contract issues dealt with paid family medical leave and the retiree medical insurance program.

BART and its two biggest labor unions have been working to resolve a dispute over a contract provision that calls for employees to receive up to six weeks of paid family medical leave annually.

Members of Service Employees Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, voted on Nov. 1 to approve a tentative agreement that includes the paid medical leave provision.

But shortly after that, BART management said it had not intended to include the provision in the agreement and claimed it had been mistakenly inserted by a temporary employee and that they had only discovered it while conducting a final review before submitting the agreement to BART’s board of directors.

On Nov. 21, the BART directors approved the contract without the paid family medical leave provision and told union leaders to take the agreement back to their members for another vote without that provision.

Leaders of SEIU Local 1021 and ATU 1555 refused management’s request.

Instead, the unions filed a lawsuit alleging that the transit agency’s directors had acted unlawfully and must honor the terms of the tentative agreement.

The second major contract issue was that the transit agency negotiated with unions a change in the time it takes for newly hired employees to become vested in its retiree medical insurance program, calling for that period to triple from five years to 15 years.

The date the policy was supposed to change for the unions was supposed to be Jan. 1, but BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said that one section of the agency’s tentative agreement with AFSCME Local 3992 has a typo that says the policy will not change until July 1.

She said another section of the agreement with the union has the correct date of Jan. 1.

Trost said BART management discovered the typo and asked AFSCME Local 3993 to change it, but the union refused.

According to Trost, BART needs the state Legislature to approve the policy change for the retiree medical insurance program and said agency officials hope that the complication over the starting date can be resolved by the Legislature.

BART’s tentative agreement with its employees on Oct. 21 ended a four-day strike by its employees. Employees also went on strike for four days at the beginning of July.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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