BART labor negotiations set to resume today

September 12, 2013 7:33:05 AM PDT
BART and a key union will resume negotiations today. More than half way through a cooling off period, the two sides seem to be making little progress toward avoiding another strike.

BART management and SEIU representatives will negotiate supplemental provisions today, but salary and benefits will not be discussed until at least next week.

A cooling off period has been in place since August 10 when California Governor Jerry Brown told the two to walk away for 60 days.

"A lot of the benefits we provide our employees are rising in costs," BART Board President Tom Radulovich said.

BART management says beyond growing employee costs like healthcare and pension, they need to replace parts of an aging infrastructure and invest in the transit agency's growth for future rider capacity needs. A message, they say, unions are ignoring.

"We need to see proposals that are reasonable, that the district can accept and that we can afford," Radulovich said.

Take a look at these numbers. BART management says the unions have yet to move below a 20 percent wage increase proposal over three years. Before the cooling off period, a proposal which includes a 10 percent raise for employees over four years was offered. They say the unions did not respond and haven't taken the offer to their members. Adding to the challenge, BART must come to terms with two unions.

"So you cannot respond or counter a proposal when you don't have the answers they indicated that they would give us," ATU 1555 President Atonette Bryant

Also up for debate is the length of the term of the contract. Management wants four years. The unions want three.

"Every time they have negotiated with numbers to the media has been numbers that continue to put the workers economically behind after four years," SEIU 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez said.

Both sides are hoping to avoid a strike.

"It's really loss of pay," BART station agent Victor Hugo Martinez said. "Loss of pay, loss of time, we want to work."

Caught in the middle are riders like Simon. With limited mobility, she says she depends on BART for everything and a possible strike would be a serious hardship.

"They're holding 400,000 people hostage everyday they keep going on strike," she said.


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