Two unions sue BART board over contract snafu

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, filed a lawsuit against members of the transit agency's board of the directors, challenging the directors' action on the ratification of the unions' contract.


The complaint, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, says BART Board Director Tom Radulovich, vice president Joel Keller and directors Thomas Blalock, James Fang, Zakhary Mallet, John McPartland, Robert Raburn, Rebecca Saltzman and Gail Murray, took illegal action in reneging on the strike-ending agreement they had reached with the unions.

On November 21, the BART Board of Directors voted to remove a section on paid family medical leave from the total package agreement that it says was approved in error and would add significant cost to the agreement. General Manager Grace Crunican to execute a contract with the unions only if the unions’ members voted to approve a modified version of the total package agreement that did not include that provision.

“The ratification process is not an opportunity for the board of directors to cherry-pick the portions of a new contract that it likes and discard the others,” said Kerianne Steele, attorney for SEIU 1021. “BART is bound by the total package agreement they negotiated.”

In response, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said, “This unnecessary action will only delay resolution to BART’s labor contract,” she stated. “A lawsuit is not needed to correct a mistake. When mistakes are made in contract negotiations they are corrected administratively by the parties, acting in good faith. Fortunately, this mistake was caught in time before the mistaken language was brought before the district’s board for ratification.”

Trost said that for the sake of BART’s riders, union leadership should allow workers to vote on the corrected agreement so BART can move forward with a renewed focus on providing safe, reliable and convenient transportation under a fair labor contract.

“This mistake would give BART union employees an additional six weeks of paid leave per year. This additional six weeks of paid leave comes on top of the three to six weeks of vacation, 13 paid holidays and 12 sick days that employees already receive annually,” Trost said. “District negotiators would never have knowingly agreed to such a financially backbreaking proposal. The union’s proposal for six additional weeks of paid leave was twice rejected by the district and then withdrawn by the unions. That withdrawal was reaffirmed by the district. After that point, it was never discussed again. BART will review the lawsuit over the next several days.”

RT&S reported on the disputed proposal November 18.



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