BART directors voted 8-1 Thursday to approve a tentative contract agreement with its two largest unions, but without a controversial clause that they say was included by accident.
The issue now goes back to the unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, to consider whether they will support the contract without that clause.
The tentative agreement was reached last month, and union members approved it several weeks ago.
However, BART management said last week that it belatedly discovered that the agreement includes a provision that, for the first time, offers paid family medical leave for employees.
BART officials said they didn't intend to have that provision in the contract, and that it was inadvertently included by a temporary employee.
Employees currently use vacation or sick time, or floating holidays, to take time off when family members have medical issues.
BART officials estimated that including the paid family medical leave provision could add up to $44 million in costs over the length of the four-year agreement.
Union leaders estimated that it would cost about $5 to $6 million.
BART directors met Thursday morning in closed session near BART headquarters. Afterward, they reconvened in a public meeting to announce their decision.
Union leaders said afterward that they are unhappy with the board's vote, but that they not yet sure what their next step will be.
SEIU Local 1021 lead negotiator Josie Mooney said union heads will discuss the matter with their attorneys and their members and will announce their "course of action" soon.
Mooney said she has been involved in labor negotiations for 20 years and has never before seen management approve a contract without approving a provision its negotiators had already agreed to.
She said she believes the board's action today was illegal and constitutes an unfair labor practice.
Antonette Bryant, president of ATU Local 1555, said, "I'm deeply disappointed in the action the board took."
Bryant said when union members voted to approve the tentative agreement several weeks ago, "We didn't get the opportunity to pick and choose" which elements of the contract should be included.
The BART director with the dissenting vote today was Zakhary Mallett.
Mallett explained after the vote that he opposed the contract even before he knew about the controversial provision because he said the tentative agreement is "too costly."