Oakland, CA – BART’s largest union, SEIU 1021, ratified its contract with the transit agency today, closing eight months of negotiations. Members voted 87% to approve the contract. On January 2nd, BART’s Board of Directors voted on and ratified the contract with the union after the Directors failed to ratify a complete contract in November.
The four-year contract ratified by SEIU 1021’s members includes reasonable raises and calls for measures that would improve safety and reliability for riders and workers alike. These measures include increased lighting in the tunnels and stations, committees to begin the process of reopening station bathrooms to help improve station cleanliness, and the installment of BART’s first electronic tracking system of notices filed by workers to flag unresolved safety hazards.
“In California we believe in workers having a voice in the workplace in order to improve working conditions and services to the public. This is particularly important at BART and other transportation agencies, where workers have lost their lives on the job, face incredibly dangerous working conditions on a daily basis, and need a voice to make the system safer for the thousands of riders they serve each day,” said Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021.
Earlier today, SB 423, a politically motivated bill that would have stripped transit workers in California of the right to strike, lost traction in the state senate. Modeled after policies in other states that have proven ineffective in preventing strikes, the bill was designed to take away the collective bargaining rights of thousands of transit workers and would have imposed draconian penalties against workers and their unions for striking.
“To strip any workers of their right to strike and limit their ability to improve working conditions and to serve the public is wrong. And today, the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee saw SB 423 for what it truly is: wrong on principle and simply bad policy.”
Furthermore, SB 423 would have unduly punished workers, who prefer to negotiate contracts with their employers through compromise and discussion at the bargaining table, and taken away employers’ incentive to bargain in good faith and settle fair agreements with their workers.
“As a community we need to start looking at the real problems at BART, at the lack of responsible leadership from the BART Board of Directors who stalled and derailed contract talks with their workers at every opportunity. As a community we need to demand accountability and make sure that we have leaders who have the interest of riders and working families first.