OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following is a joint statement by SEIU and ATU:
Negotiators for two unions representing 2,300 BART workers said today they were surprised by the transit agency’s move to call in a state mediator, but are hopeful a mediator can put an end to district negotiating tactics they say are aimed at provoking Labor strife.
“BART carries more passengers per day than any airline in America,” said John Arantes, BART Chapter President SEIU local 1021 and Deslar Patten, BART Professional Chapter President, SEIU 1021. “We all expect contract negotiations to be complex and time-consuming. So we don’t understand why BART stalled the start of negotiations by more than a month or why they’re calling in a mediator before negotiations have even begun in earnest.”
At the same time, negotiators say, many of the district’s wage and work rule proposals seem calculated to provoke a negative response from a workforce that hasn’t had a raise in five years:
- Offering workers just a 1 percent raise over a four-year contract while reducing their take-home pay by 10 percent through higher mandatory payments for health insurance and retirement benefits;
- Instituting a rule that would allow the use of BART police to investigate BART workers and visit their homes for even minor workplace infractions;
- Proposing the elimination of the Labor-Management safety committee, a body comprised of frontline BART workers and agency executives focused on creating policies to improve system safety for riders and BART workers.
“BART workers want just two things in these negotiations,” said Antonette Bryant, president of ATU 1555, which represents BART operators and station agents. “We want to negotiate a fair pay package after going five years with no increases, and we want the district to institute some basic changes that will improve system safety for riders and BART workers.”
Negotiators for BART workers also are frustrated with district budget estimates they say underestimate revenues, over-estimate costs and describe huge future liabilities for capital projects that aren’t even approved.
“We call it BART’s ‘rubber budget,’” said Bryant. “It expands when they want it to, shrinks when they need it to and always seems to stretch the truth. If a mediator can help us get to the real facts, we’re all for it.”
The four-year contract with workers represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 1555 and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021 expires on June 30th.