BART calls family leave provision a $40M mistake

The newest dispute between BART management and its unions prompted a private meeting behind closed doors on Monday.
November 18, 2013 7:09:53 PM PST
The newest dispute between BART management and its unions prompted a private meeting behind closed doors on Monday and neither side is budging over a provision on family leave in the new contract. Management says it's a $40 million mistake.

Both sides pointed out that Monday's two-hour session in Oakland was not a negotiation. BART management wants that, but the unions don't. And while there's been no official threat from the unions to strike again, that's what some riders fear might happen.

"If it's an error or glitch by BART it's one of historical proportions," said SEIU executive director Pete Castelli.

While number crunchers for the unions and BART met behind closed doors to cost out a disputed family leave provision, union leaders say they expect the district to stand by a document its negotiating team clearly signed in July.

"We're not looking to go back to the bargaining table or renegotiate. What we end up doing or have to do, I don't know, but our position is we have an agreement, we voted it," said Castelli.

But BART maintains the provision giving workers six weeks of paid family leave, without having to use sick or vacation time first ended up in the contract by mistake.

"This paid family leave element was not intended to be in the contract. It is under investigation how it ended up in the contract," said BART director Zakhary Mallett.

BART claims the document, dated July 19, was signed by BART management and its chief negotiator, only because a temporary employee put it in a stack of papers by accident.

Some BART riders who endured two strikes in four months are clearly flabbergasted by the glitch.

"That's seems unrealistic that you would have some objection after the negotiations are complete, twice," said BART rider Richard West.

"Here we go again. Although I think the union is not going to strike, but they're going to have to come up with some sort of a compromise, but it's clearly showing that BART and their people are not quite on the ball," said BART rider Bruce Johnson.

BART's Board of directors meets again this Thursday and on the agenda is a vote on whether to ratify the contract between the district and its unions.

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