Key community leaders to call on BART to make critical safety changes, Workers to vote on strike authorization

Bargainign for a Safer BART

San Francisco – Key community leaders in San Francisco today gathered at the 24th Street BART station to remember a worker killed on the job and stand up for workers safety. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, SEIU Local 1021 workers, the San Francisco Central Labor Council, members of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the Latino Democratic Club, and other community leaders stood together in solidarity with BART workers as safety remains a critical issue in contract negotiations. Worker contracts expire on Sunday, just five days away.

In 2001, BART electrician Robert Rhodes was sent to investigate a problem on the tracks near the 24th Street Station when he was struck by a train and killed. BART safety workers say poor lighting prevented the driver from seeing Rhodes and stopping in time. Since then, repeated recommendations by BART safety workers for improved lighting in BART tunnels, stations and parking lots have gone unheeded. Now BART workers are raising these concerns at the bargaining table, but BART management refuses to negotiate on safety or make necessary changes.

“While BART is getting unprecedented revenue, its workers are forced to do their job in the dark, without proper lighting and equipment,” said Supervisor Campos. “We are standing here today, where a worker was killed while on the job, to call on BART to protect its workers and make critical safety changes. All BART riders and workers deserve a safe system.”

BART management has shown a continued disregard for working safety by:
• Offering wage increases in exchange for the elimination of safety inspectors, which workers rejected on Friday.
• Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorneys to fight OSHA safety regulations and violations
• Refusing to bargain on safety issues although it is a mandatory subject to bargaining

“Enough is enough – workers safety is too important to compromise on,” said Saul Almanza, SEIU Local 1021 BART Professional Chapter Vice President. “We are standing with community leaders to call on BART to drop their proposals that jeopardize worker safety and to make critical changes to protect workers and riders alike. For years, the District has spent thousands of dollars to fight OSHA regulations that would make BART safer for workers . We cannot continue to work in these conditions and risk the lives of hard working men and women who help keep BART running.”

BART workers are bargaining to improve safety and convenience for riders by:
• Improve lighting on the tracks and in the stations
• Pushing to reopen, maintain, and staff the station restrooms
• Opposing a proposal by BART management to eliminate BART safety inspectors, who inspect the trains before they leave the shop to ensure they are safe.
• Blocking a proposal by BART management to eliminate the worker-management safety committee, of BART workers and agency executives focused on creating policies to improve system safety for riders and BART workers
• Bargaining for reasonable staffing levels and fair compensation. BART workers haven’t had a pay increase in 4 years.

Over 1,400 workers responsible for repair, maintenance and cleaning of the BART system are currently in contract negotiations with the transit district, which carries about 400,000 Bay Area passengers each weekday. The four-year contract with workers represented by SEIU Local 1021 and three other unions expire on June 30th.

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