Representatives of BART operators and management resolved the latest and hopefully last dispute over a previously ratified contract. While the two sides agreed to a new labor contract, the question on paid family leave was not properly answered during contract negotiations. The approved solution would require existing resources and the refurbished contract must still be ratified by both union members and the BART Board of Directors.
Thanks to the BART strikes and the ongoing cat fight between train operators and management and similar actions elsewhere, public opinion on unionized labor has taken a big hit. In a recent poll, 45% of respondents believe unions do more harm than good, up from 35% in March 2011. 44% of those polled believe that transit workers should not be allowed to strike, compared to 47% who believe they should. Not lost on this sentiment, State Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) proposed legislation that would prohibit transit unions from striking. Union representatives lambasted the proposal by noting that no similar checks are proposed for management.
BART management and train operators are at their throats again, this time on account of a previously reported glitch in the contract the two sides already signed in agreement. According to BART, the contract erroneously included a provision that would give operators six weeks of paid family medical leave. Now the union representing the operators is suing the BART Board of Directors to preserve the stipulation, claiming that any action to remove it would amount to a “betrayal”. BART maintains that the provision was a “mistake” that was overlooked when the two sides approved the contract.
Negotiations between BART and its workers have hit a bump, as the agency accidentally included a certain provision in the tentative contract. The provision, which could cost BART up to $44 million in a four-year span, would allow workers up to six weeks of paid leave per year to handle health and family issues. At the moment, employees must use their sick days or vacation when they take time off to deal with such issues with pay. Two strikes have affected the Bay area this year. Nearly half a million people travel via BART each weekday, and both the agency and employees are working on coming to an agreement.