BART "mistake" threatens its contract agreement with workers UPDATED

SEIU Local 1021 Political Director Chris Daly: "We were never confused."
Tim Daw

Just when it appeared the ugly contract impasse between BART management and workers was over — a divisive struggle that resulted in two debilitating four-day strikes and the Oct. 19 death of two workers struck by a train being used to train possible replacement drivers — BART management is threatening to scuttle the deal over a provision it says was mistakenly added to the contract.

At issue is a contract provision where BART workers from SEIU Local 1021 and ATU Local 1555 who go on leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act will be paid for six of the 12 weeks the law allows them to take unpaid, BART spokesperson Luna Salaver told the Guardian.

While BART management and its negotiators — including Assistant General Manager of Operations Paul Oversier and Thomas Hock, a contractor who the district paid $400,000 to lead its negotiations — signed off on the provision back in July and again when the final deal was reached last month, Salaver said BART didn’t mean to include it.

“It was a mistake that a provision rejected twice by BART management ended up in the stack of approved documents,” Salaver said, noting that it was caught this week as the district prepared to give the contract final approval on Nov. 21. It has already been approved by the two unions.

“We were never confused as to the status of the Family and Medical Leave Act agreement,” Local 1021 Political Director Chris Daly told the Guardian, calling the provision a reasonable benefit similar to one that he sponsored for city employees when he was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

But Salaver said it could add tens of millions of dollars in costs (the district still isn’t sure how much) to a contact that will already cost the district an additional $67 million, so management is convening a special session of BART’s Board of Directors this afternoon (Fri/15) to discuss the issue, saying that management isn’t yet recommending the contract be rejected, as some had reported. [UPDATE: The BART board told administrators to re-open negotiations with the unions, but the unions are resisting a return to the bargaining table and urge the board to approve the contract on Thursday].

“There is an erroneous report that BART management is going to tell the BART board to reject the contract,” Salaver told us, inside calling the closed-session discussion a “fact-finding session.”

But Daly said BART management had told the unions that it would recommend rejection of the contract, and that it is now backpedaling because some directors are unhappy with the snafu. It also has a serious public relations problem on its hands, finding itself in a position to reignite the battle with workers while also contending with angry state legislators and an ongoing NTSB investigation into its culpability in the worker deaths.   


The complete prepared statement issued last night from SEIU 1021 Executive Director Pete Castelli follows:  

"BART Management has been in contact regarding the tentative agreement they reached with SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 on October 21st and which our members unanimously ratified. We’ve been informed that they’ve scheduled a special meeting with the BART Board of Directors to discuss the terms of the contract and to clarify details regarding certain provisions for tomorrowafternoon.

“In July, BART Management and its unions reached a tentative agreement on family medical leave, which was signed by BART Management and their chief negotiator. During a thorough review of the final settlement last month, BART Management and their attorneys did not raise any concerns about how this tentative agreement or other provisions in the final settlement would prevent them from recommending the contract to the Board for approval.

“It’s disappointing to hear BART Management would recommend that the BART Board reject this agreement—a contract they negotiated with their workers for more than five months, signed, and praised in the public as a fair compromise.

“We expect the BART Board of Directors to vote on and approve this fair and reasonable contract."


benefit was included in the documentation by mistake, then clearly the union should do the honorable thing and agree to the removal of that clause, rather than try and get something for nothing by lying about it and saying they always thought that was included.

That's the ethical solution to this. If the union instead wants to be unethical, then I think many people would support BART management ripping up the entire agreement and starting over. More than a few of think the managements gave away too much anyway, and would welcome some hardball here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Management agreed to this in July. It has been part of the deal all along. Typically in a negotiation, both sides initial the sections on which they agree. The union is saying they have initialed agreements dating back to July, and that they reviewed the agreed-upon contract line-by-line on two separate occasions with management.

It's not only unethical of BART management to pull a bait-and-switch of this magnitude, it's illegal. It's not "hardball" to renege on a deal you've already agreed to, it's just plain sleazy.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:39 am

it is clear that management genuinely believed that it was later taken out and didn't form part of the final deal.

Therefore they should not agree to it now.

And I think the union knew this and are lying.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:59 am

Clear? How? They said nothing else about it in the last four months, during which they disputed and re disputed a host of other items.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

that they didn't agree to this, then the deal is off.

Nothing has been signed yet.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

Offer, Acceptance, Consideration. Where's the consideration?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

and local progressives who advocate on behalf of the 5%.

For reals, BART has a real PR problem on it's hands.

Daly and the unions trustworthy status with the non progressives might be taken into account here too?

That might require a real journalist to look into.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

6 weeks paid leave, give me a break. If the unions cannot agree on taking the provision out of the contract, then its back to the negotiating table for BART management and the unions.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

If that's the way BART wants to play it, the workers are well within their rights to walk off the job immediately.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:41 am

Then we can rescind the entire contract and impose a new one.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 7:00 am

Chris Daly is constantly confused.

Posted by Chris on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

Chris Daly was operating the BART train that killed those 2 workers!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:37 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

What a stupid thing to say. The unions said all along that the conditions were unsafe; union members had already been killed by very same stupid rule. That was a central point of the disagreement. The people with blood on their hands are management.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:43 am

potentially confrontational and dangerous situation, then two of their workers would still be alive today.

The deal they agreed after the accident was little different from what they turned down the week before.

Pure greed killed those workers.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

Read it before you sign it.

BART management is incompetent. Looks like Hock split town with his hundreds of thousands after either agreeing to paid leave or erroneously signing off on it back in July.

This one's entirely on the BART board and management.

Will this dispute be mediated or will we see round 3 of the strike?

Can't see management trying to use scabs to run skeleton service like they wanted to last month, not after killing two workers.

This fiasco takes away any PR advantage management has had up to this point. What bozos!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

The unions can still pull out if, say, the ballots reject it.

So the management can pull out too

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

The Unions would be well within their rights to walk out the door immediately if BART reneges on the deal after all this.

They are holding signed documents showing that BART agreed to this as early as July. If BART decides to violate their agreement now, it's a hands-down case of bad faith bargaining, and as such it's an illegal unfair labor practice.

Imagine them trying to pull something like this with Goldman Sachs. Remember when we were told we had to give bonuses to the bankers because "they had contracts" even though we were having to bail them out? The difference is, this is actually a reasonable provision for people who have a catastrophic illness in themselves or their family members. We're not talking 6 weeks vacation here. We're talking about people recovering from cancer or major surgery, or dealing with the impending death of a family member, or the like. And the money actually recirculates in the Bay Area economy, unlike banker bonuses, many of which now sit offshore.

That the management wants to renege on the deal at all after months of contentious negotiations and two strikes, with two unnecessary because BART stubbornly held on to unsafe work rules, is shameful. That it's over short-term pay for workers dealing with catastrophic illness is utterly heartless.

The workers would have an absolute, unqualified right to walk off the job with no notice whatsoever if BART really tries to pull this.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:55 am

If the unions had voted against it, they would be free to negotiate some more, so management must be free to reject it as well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 7:01 am

Nope. If union leadership signed off on something, never brought it up again, and then sought to renege on it four months later. You get the right to reject a contract if it fails ratification only when you make clear at the table that it is subject to ratification. In this case the very same management team that was at the table is trying to reverse it, and that's a legally defined unfair labor practice. If the union did this, management would make them live with it. If BART did it with a bank, the bank would make them live with it.

BART should probably sue Thomas Hock for legal malpractice, but that doesn't mean they get to recover from the workers for their own team's mistakes.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

The unions held ballots. If those ballots had not passed, the unions would have rejected the deal

Same goes for management.

I say we start over here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

Let's begin again and, if the workers want to strike, let them. They have no sympathy anyway.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

He really needs to take tips from Haaland about how to get rid of those.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

Daly really needs to find something useful to do with his life.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:48 am

Why does SFBG tolerate this nonsense? The rightist trolls who pollute this site have no honor and no fealty to the Enlightenment values that this country was founded on.

Free speech means the freedom to speak -- or to not speak. By impostering me, and thus "putting words in my mouth," this despicable troll violates the spirit of American values.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 11:50 am

why are you so down on alleged trollers here/

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

Union workers need to be content with the fact they live in a great country, have things that many people in this world don't have, and have a job with better benefits than many who go to college and struggle to make a career - all with barely a high school level education.

The deaths are on THEIR hands because no one forced them to go on strike.

Thanks, union, for causing traffic and making the lives of people (who work hard struggling and wishing for benefits like you have) hell. I have zero empathy for you. If it were up to me, I'd have you all fired and hire new people.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

as they were out of contract and refused a new one.

There are thousands of people who would love to work under the pay and benefits of the old contract, so why stick with these lazy losers?

At the very least, we should make it illegal for them to strike.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

Look at Daley's trousers in the picture.

Judging from the stain, he seems to have drop one of his F-bombs in his own pants.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 5:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

... or dishonest.

My theory is that public infrastructure such as BART (and MUNI) is *intentionally* put into the hands of incompetents.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 10:12 am

the intent to include this provision in the agreement. The effect might be that every workers finds some excuse or other to claim the extra weeks paid leave, and the costs would be astronomic.

It's not in the interests of the farepayers and taxpayers to support this level of benefit and, if the union will not admit that this, then they are the oens being dishonest, as well as greedy and selfish.

Personally I hope this scuppers the entire deal and we start over.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 10:28 am

6 weeks paid FMLA is an obscene burden to put on BART riders and taxpayers. Who gets such a benefit except CEO's and politicians? This is ridiculous and they should be embarrassed by such greed.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

to be added upon in future negotiations. In 5 years they'll have 8 weeks off, in 10 years it'll increase to 12 and on and on and on.

Posted by The Goebblin Love Child of Smaug on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

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