BART talks making progress, but no settlement yet

Contracts for union employees expire at midnight tomorrow

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said yesterday that negotiators for management and the transit agency's 2,824 union workers are making progress but a settlement hasn't been reached yet.

With the contract for union employees set to expire at midnight Thursday, Johnson said, "We're in sync on some issues but we're not in sync on others."

Johnson said there is still "substantial ground to cover" in management's bid to achieve $100 million in labor cost savings by having employees contribute more of the cost of their benefits, such as health care and retirement, and eliminating wasteful work rules.

He said BART wants to reduce its labor costs because it faces a projected $250 million deficit over the next four years.

The two sides have been negotiating since April 1. The contract had been scheduled to expire at midnight on June 30, but both sides agreed on June 27 to extend the deadline after state mediators became involved in the talks.

Carlos Rivera, a spokesman for Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 1,200, mechanics, custodians, safety inspects and clerical employees, agreed that some progress is being made and said his union still hopes to reach an agreement by midnight Thursday.

When a reporter asked Johnson about reports that the contract has been extended another day until midnight on Friday, he said, "We're focused on getting a deal done by midnight on Thursday."

BART workers voted last month to approve going on strike if a contract agreement isn't reached.

The contract for BART workers calls for them to give 72 hours before they go on strike. If an agreement isn't reached by midnight on Thursday, the earliest they could go on strike would be next Monday.

SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, are the two largest of BART's five labor unions and set the tone in labor talks.

The third-largest union is Local 3993 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 200 middle managers.

The two smallest unions represent BART police officers and managers.

The BART Police Managers Association represents sergeants, lieutenants and commanders and the BART Police Officers Association represents rank-and-file officers.

However, members of the police unions are barred from going on strike.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

Let's review the demands BART unions are pushing for. Here's a union that wages are already the highest of any rail system in the nation.In addition, BART employees enjoy benefits almost unheard of in the private sector. A BART employee that retires at 63 with 40 years of service collects 97% of their top salary! And the employee doesn't contribute a penny to their pension! Then one of the most lucrative health care plans anybody has. Employee pay $82 a month regardless of number of family members, while BART covers the rest of the premium which can be as high as $1,868 a month. And here the union is demanding a 3% hike while BART is facing a $100 million shortfall over the next four years. Talk about no concept of reality!

Like this comment
Posted by ???
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

Just fire the union and hire non-union employees. The budget would then balance and productivity would increase. In this economy, you'll have 10x more applicants than available jobs.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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