Workers to Testify in Legislative Oversight Hearing on Worker Safety at Bay Area Rapid Transit

BART Safety Workers to Testify on the Controversial Practice of “Simple Approval”

San Francisco, CA – Today, in a special hearing called by the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on worker safety at BART, workers specializing in safety procedures and protocol will testify on Management’s continued refusal to address workers’ serious safety concerns and the lack of a culture of safety at the nation’s fifth largest public transportation system. Workers will also testify on the practice of “safety approval,” which was suspended shortly by BART after the October 19 incident in which two workers were struck and killed by a train operated by a trainee.

In recent years, BART has been cited by Cal-OSHA for dozens of violations, including two fatalities. Workers will testify on BART’s alarming record of fighting state safety regulations, instead of fixing the problems identified by workers or reforming its procedures to comply with state law.

“Workers fought hard for safety improvements at the bargaining table, but workers should not have to wait until contract negotiations for BART Management to deal with life and death issues,” said John Arantes, President of SEIU 1021 BART Chapter. “It’s outrageous that BART Management waits until labor contracts expire or until tragedy strikes before agreeing to address dangerous working conditions.”

At today’s hearing, workers will also provide testimony on the history of the controversial safety procedure “simple approval,” which contributed to last month’s fatal accident, as well as to a prior incident in 2008.

“For decades, we’ve raised concerns around ‘simple approval’ and how it forces workers to do dangerous jobs without any protection,” said Saul Almanza, who trains workers on wayside safety regulations. “Under ‘simple approval,’ BART Management is not required to give workers warnings of safety hazards on the tracks, including warnings of oncoming trains.”

The hearing, requested by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), will be held in the Auditorium of the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco and begin at 10:00 a.m. today.

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