BART board wants to return to bargaining table with unions

BART's board of directors says they want to renegotiate a mistake in the contract, but the unions are balking.
November 16, 2013 12:17:18 AM PST
BART is trying to wipe the egg off its face after a clumsy mistake that could derail the deal just reached with its unions.

ABC7 News reporter Lilian Kim reports that the Board of Directors voted 7-1 to direct BART's general manager to go back to the bargaining table to resolve the error in the contract that ended the strike.

She also reports that BART's Chief Negotiator Thomas Hock is no longer associated with the district. The transit agency's board says a new chief negotiator will be named shortly.

BART's Board of Directors was in a closed session Friday, talking about what one official describes as a "clerical error" in the signed contract reached with its two largest unions. That mistake may force the board to scrap the agreement.

The item in dispute is a signed tentative agreement, or TA, giving workers six weeks paid time off for FMLA, that's the Family Medical Leave Act.

That's a big change from what they currently allow. Right now, BART pays no part of the 12-weeks allowed under the law. The transit agency says it was accidentally signed, included in a large stack of tentative agreements. They say it was rejected in writing multiple times before being signed in error.

The paid time off would significantly increase the cost of the contract package.

The unions argue that BART knew exactly what it was doing. And now simply has a case of buyer's remorse.

"It is not appropriate to reject an overall TA, it's not appropriate to reject a single aspect of a TA," SEIU lawyer Keri Anne Steele said. "It is your duty to adopt the overall TA being presented to you."

"You already killed two people," said John Arantes with SEIU 1021. "Let's get over, let's fix this, let's work together. We're here to move the patrons, to serve the Bay Area, that's all we're here for."

Arantes was referring to the double fatal accident on the tracks that happened during the second BART strike.

BART spokesperson Luna Salavar added, "We know that a mistake was made, we caught it before the BART board ratified the contract. We're able to disclose the issue to the BART board today. We hope that we'll be able to resolve this in a professional manner so we can move on."

BART commuter Tom Guffey weighed in, "It reminds me of how important it is to keep your files organized and in the right place and under the right header and all that kind of stuff."

It has been hard fought, hard won. This is a very painful process to go through now, with the possibility of the contract being rejected.


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