BART Unions Shocked About the Collapse of Negotiations; Reluctantly Prepare for Strike at Midnight

Union had framework for agreement around wages, pensions and healthcare and offered to submit to binding interest arbitration on work rules to avoid strike.

STATEMENT BY SEIU LOCAL 1021 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PETE CASTELLI

Oakland, CA — “I’m surprised and sorry to be standing here tonight.  In all my years in the Labor movement, I’ve never seen an employer drive negotiations that were this close to a deal into a strike.

After a marathon 28-hour bargaining session, BART’s two largest unions thought they had the final framework for a deal

We met BART’s demands on pensions.

We met BARTs demands on health care benefits.

We had the outline of a deal on wages.

We offered to send unresolved work rule issues to voluntary binding interest arbitration.

But after telling the public that their main goal at the bargaining table was saving money to buy new trains, BART management blew up negotiations by insisting that employees sacrifice workplace protections in exchange for economic well-being. This was a poison pill for workers: choose between your paycheck and your rights.

We had a rough deal on economics. We can’t believe BART is willing to incite a strike over their professed desire to implement an electronic pay stub system and handheld computers in the workplace.

This is ridiculous.

BART became the top-rated transit system in America with its current work rules.

BART increased ridership from 270,000 riders to 400,000 riders per day with its current work rules.

What’s more, BART never focused on performance or efficiency issues during bargaining and repeatedly acknowledged that productivity in the system had increased.  The fact is that the system is carrying more passengers than ever with fewer frontline workers than ever.

The rules we’re focused on protect basic rights.  Like the 8-hour workday.  Like past practice language that protect our workers from punishment and retribution when they report favoritism, sexual harassment and other problems in the workplace.

In the end, we’re willing to let a neutral third-party arbitrator help both sides work through the differences on work rules and reach final agreement on the economic package discussed on the last 28-hour bargaining session.

Despite reports that BART General Manager Grace Crunican and Board Chair Tom Radulovich are trying to meet with our union, I want to confirm that neither has contacted me nor the other top staff of the union to restart talks since bargaining broke up this afternoon.

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