Lawsuit Charges BART Board of Directors Unlawfully Reneged on Final and Complete Labor Agreement
Oakland, CA – Today, BART’s largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, filed a lawsuit against members of the transit agency’s Board of the Directors, challenging the Directors’ unlawful action on the ratification of the unions’ contract. The complaint, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, charges that BART Board Director Tom Radulovich, Vice President Joel Keller, and Directors Thomas Blalock, James Fang, Zakhary Mallet, John McPartland, Robert Raburn, Rebecca Saltzman and Gail Murray took illegal action in reneging on the strike-ending agreement they had reached with the unions.
On November 21st, the BART Board of Directors voted to remove a section on paid family medical leave from the total package agreement, and ordered General Manager Grace Crunican to execute a contract with the unions only if the unions’ members voted to approve a modified version of the total package agreement that did not include that provision.
“The ratification process is not an opportunity for the Board of Directors to cherry-pick the portions of a new contract that it likes and discard the others,” said Kerianne Steele, attorney for SEIU 1021. “BART is bound by the total package agreement they negotiated.”
The lawsuit charges the following against the Directors and BART Management:
First, the Directors broke state law by refusing to ratify the complete contract their authorized agents negotiated and signed. The Board of Directors have withheld ratification of the total contract, claiming that the section on paid family medical leave was signed by mistake by their chief negotiator Thomas Hock, Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier and Labor Relations Manager Rudy Medina. If that were the case, the “mistake” was caused solely by the District’s own carelessness and lack of constructive engagement at the bargaining table, which are not grounds for refusing to ratify a total package agreement.
Second, the BART Board of Directors broke state law when it refused to execute the complete, final agreement. Members of the Board closely monitored and supervised BART’s bargaining team during negotiations, and in doing so serially ratified the tentative agreements with the unions until a strike-ending total package agreement was reached on October 21st. With the understanding that a complete agreement was reached, the unions called off their second unfair practice strike and ratified the total final package on November 1st. The BART Board of Directors must honor the final and complete agreement it reached with the unions.
Third, it’s unlawful for BART or any employer to sidestep months of negotiations, unilaterally change the terms of a total package agreement, and then offer the modified terms to the union on a take-it-or-leave it basis. BART Directors illegally removed the section on paid family medical leave and to date, neither the General Manager nor the Board have asked the unions to participate in negotiations. Instead, BART is insisting that the unions simply remove the provision.
“Time and time again, the unions have demonstrated a willingness to address the Board’s issues in order to reach a resolution,” said Antonette Bryant, President of ATU 1555. “That requires dialogue, but there’s been none. Instead, the Directors decided to create further uncertainty and renege on the total agreement they reached with workers.”
“The unions have bargained in good faith, ratified a complete agreement, and have been willing to work with BART Management and the Directors to address their concerns,” said Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021. “But the response we’ve gotten from BART Management and the Directors is that workers should just disregard the bargaining process and the contract that thousands of workers ratified. That’s why we’re here today, seeking court enforcement of our complete, final, ratified contract.”