BART, unions throwing stones as second strike looms

An oncoming BART car pulls into a station.
July 22, 2013 5:57:55 PM PDT
Another BART contract deadline is looming and there is no progress at the bargaining table. A compromise would avoid a second strike of the transit agency's union workers in as many months.

The painful four-day walkout at the beginning of July is still fresh in commuters' minds. That strike ended with a 30-day contract extension. Now with 14 days to go, the two sides appear no closer to a deal.

BART's chief negotiator, Tom Hock, will not be available for some of these critical days. According to the unions, he's on vacation for 10 of the 14 days remaining. However, according to BART, Hock only has other commitments from the July 24 to July 28.

Even if he were at the table, the unions believe he would be more interested in promoting a strike than a settlement.

"Manipulation, deception, stall tactics, not resolving problems. Surface bargaining which is intended not to move bargaining forward," said SEIU Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez.

"We're not here to bust the unions and neither is the negotiator. We're just going through the normal process of union negotiations and BART apparently, I'm new, BART apparently takes longer to get things done than the average transit property," said BART General Manager Grace Crunican.

The unions say BART is still unwilling to talk about safety issues, and while union negotiators are ready to talk, BART is rarely at the table. BART says, at this point, negotiations are done through a mediator.

"We've received no response at all, in terms of the safety issues we're concerned about. And we really demand that we not put off, for a whole other week, the resolution of this dispute," said SEIU negotiator Josie Mooney.

BART's general manager says she is not afraid of another strike.

"Fear doesn't play any part of this. We are in a negotiation and we need the union to come to the table and sit down and walk through the proposals that are here, and stop talking about peripheral issues. And the mediator has asked us to have our negotiations at the table and that's where we are going to have them. Not out in the press," said Crunican.

If no agreement is reached, trains could stop running as early as Monday, August 5.


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