BART directors voted 8-1 today to approve a tentative agreement that could end nine months of labor strife with the agency’s employee unions.
Shortly before voting in favor of the pact this morning, BART director Robert Raburn said, “We’ve had nine months of gestation and I’m looking forward to this having a healthy effect because we need to have a good relationship with our workers.”
The only board member to vote against the agreement was director Zakhary Mallett, who said he opposes it because it doesn’t include a net increase in the amount of money employees must contribute to help pay for their retirement costs.
BART management had said the pension contribution increase was one of its goals in lengthy negotiations that began last April 1 and included two four-day strikes in July and October by members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021.
Mallett said employees will pay more money for their retirement but that will be offset by pay increases BART is giving to its workers.
“All we’re doing is increasing our subsidy to them,” Mallett said.
Director Gail Murray said that although the agreement “isn’t perfect” and “is more money than I would have wished to pay,” she believes it’s a reasonable deal because it requires employees to accept new workplace rules that will make the transit agency more productive and efficient.
After the vote, board president Joel Keller said, “This was a negotiated process that resulted in some dissatisfaction on both sides but that probably shows that this probably is not a bad contract.”
The tentative agreement reached on Dec. 21 resolved a dispute over a paid family medical leave provision that management said had been inserted by mistake in a previous tentative agreement but leaders of the two unions said was intended by all parties to be part of the pact.
The new agreement doesn’t include paid family medical leave but does expand paid time off for bereavement leave to include deaths of grandchildren or stepparents of a spouse or domestic partner.
The tentative pact also calls for the construction of break rooms in the Daly City, Millbrae and West Oakland stations and allows qualifying employees more flexibility in how they pay for the costs of their family medical leave, plus additional administrative changes to the contract.
Members of ATU Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, will vote on the agreement on Friday.
Members of SEIU Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, won’t vote on the pact until Jan. 13.
Des Patten, a top negotiator for SEIU Local 1021, said he’s hopeful that the members of his union will approve the agreement, saying, “We worked long and hard for our members so they could vote ‘yes’ on it.
Chris Finn, a lead negotiator for ATU Local 1555, said he’s hopeful that his union’s members also will approve the contract, as the executive board is recommending approval and already has had a meeting with union members to address their questions.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News