Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

BART’s Largest Union Ratifies Labor Contract as Bill to Strip Transit Workers of the Right to Strike Loses Traction in the State Legislature

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.

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SEIU 1021 Statement on Board of Directors’ Ratification of BART Workers’ Labor Contract

Oakland, CA – Today, after eight months of contract talks, the BART Board of Directors voted to ratify the labor contract for more than 2,300 workers represented by SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555.

SEIU 1021 Executive Director Pete Castelli released the following statement:

“Today’s Board vote incrementally restores the faith that the riders and workers have lost in the BART Board of Directors, but it’s not enough to fix the damage they’ve caused to our communities.

It’s been an unnecessarily long, tough, and contentious eight months of negotiations, which have been prolonged by the BART Directors’ unwillingness to sit down and bargain fairly with the workers. Over the course  of negotiations, the Bay Area has witnessed this Board of Directors throw BART and the Bay Area into chaos by pushing workers out on two strikes and by failing to demand accountability from BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican.

Today BART is less safe and less reliable because of the Directors’ reckless leadership.

Something has to change in order for all of us to regain our confidence in BART, and it starts with having BART Directors who are committed to strengthening the transportation system we all rely on and who prioritize its workers’ and riders’ safety.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with our communities and to elect Directors who are committed to improving service and safety to all who depend on BART.”

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SEIU 1021 Reaches Fair and Equitable Resolution with BART Management on Disputed Labor Contract Provision

Oakland, CA – Today BART’s largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, reached a tentative agreement with BART’s Management’s negotiators on a disputed contract provision on paid family medical leave.

“Today we’re proud to announce that we’ve reached a resolution that we can bring back to our members for a vote,” said SEIU 1021 BART Chapter President John Arantes. “It’s a fair resolution that would close months of drawn out contract talks and—in the interest of the riding public—end the uncertainty caused by the Board’s removal of a section from our final, complete contract.”

“BART Management has been adamant in their admission of a mistake and how they’ve handled the situation,” Arantes continued, “and, in the past few days, we’ve had the opportunity to have meaningful discussion and resolve some of our differences at the bargaining table. We’d also like to thank Greg Lim, from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, who returned to provide valuable assistance.”

“Our ability to address the disputed provision at the bargaining table resulted from BART Management’s negotiators sharing the unions’ commitment to bargain fairly and equitably,” said Des Patten, SEIU 1021 Professional Chapter President. “That’s the way to fix problems, and the way we hope BART Management and the BART Directors would move forward from now on, so that they can restore the lost trust from the riders and from their workers.”

After the BART Board of Directors ratify the contract, the amended version of the strike-ending agreement will be brought before SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 for a vote. Once the ratified, the contract terms would go into effect.

On November 21st, the BART Board of Directors voted to approve a contract that did not have a provision on family medical leave, that BART’s chief negotiator Thomas Hock, Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier, and Labor Relations Manager Rudy Medina bargained and signed with its unions.

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BART Workers Applaud NTSB’s Life-Saving Changes to Trackway Safety Rules

BART workers represented by SEIU 1021 released the following statement in response to the NTSB’s ban on the controversial practice of “simple approval.”

“We welcome the NTSB’s move to ensure that BART and similar transit agencies adopt rules that would ensure the safety of the hard-working men and women who transport hundreds of thousands of riders each day,” said Saul Almanza, a 17-year BART employee who trains workers on trackway safety procedures and protocols. “Workers at BART have repeatedly raised concerns about the procedure known as ‘simple approval’ and how it contributed to the tragic and unnecessary deaths of four trackway personnel.”

We fully agree with NTSB Chairman Hersman that ‘a positive safety culture is not a solo act,’ and we look to BART Management and the Board of Directors to join us in fostering a culture of safety for workers and the riders who depend on us.”

Last month, BART workers testified at a special legislative oversight hearing on BART worker safety and blasted the transit agency for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting Cal-OSHA violations, including violations that contributed to two fatalities. Workers also testified on BART’s alarming record of fighting state safety regulations, instead of fixing the problems identified by workers or reforming procedures to comply with state law.

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SEIU 1021 Condemns BART Director Keller’s Politically Motivated Move to Strip Workers of the Right to Strike

Today SEIU 1021 released a statement on Director Keller’s move to take away workers’ right to strike.

Director Keller, who is up for re-election this year, proposed a ballot measure to support state legislation which would chip away at workers’ collective bargaining rights by stripping them of the right to strike.

A statement from Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021:

“We condemn Director Keller’s politically motivated move to introduce an advisory ballot measure to strip BART workers’ of the right to strike. This is a smokescreen for the lack of leadership from the Board of Directors and their management team’s irresponsibility.

In these past eight months, the Bay Area has witnessed how BART officials and their high-paid consultants like Thomas Hock have actively pursued a scorched earth policy to dismantle workers’ rights and workers’ ability to improve workplace conditions. They’ve seen how the Board and Management have chosen to disregard workers’ concerns, resulting in a less reliable and more dangerous transportation system.

Riders and the Bay Area have seen how our elected Board has allowed the General Manager to run the system in a reckless manner, without consideration for the riding public or their own employees.

Instead of taking responsibility or demanding accountability, Director Keller prefers to point fingers and blame workers, just as those very workers are in the process of fixing Management’s alleged mistakes. This is not a way to run a train system.”

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SEIU 1021 Statement on Today’s Meeting with BART Management on Disputed Provision in Labor Contract

Today BART’s largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, met with the federal mediator and BART Management regarding the disputed contract provision on paid family medical leave.

Today’s meeting lasted until 8:00 p.m. and will resume tomorrow at noon.

Statement from SEIU 1021 BART Chapter President John Arantes:

“We looked to today’s meeting as an opportunity to reach a fair and equitable resolution to the dispute regarding family medical leave, and we came to the meeting with every intention to reach an agreement with BART Management.

We met with the District today in an effort to do just that, and we will be back to meet tomorrow in an attempt to reach an agreement.”

Statement from BART Professional Chapter Vice President Saul Almanza released the following statement:

“The workers and more importantly, the riders deserve a quick and fair resolution to Management and the BART Board’s decision to unnecessarily prolong contract talks. We expected that General Manager Grace Crunican and BART Management to share in our commitment to reaching an agreement tonight.

It’s with great disappointment to announce that as of this evening, we’ve not reached a resolution to these months of contract talks. However, we remain committed to working towards a resolution that is fair for everyone.”

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Workers Blast BART Director Robert Raburn’s Misuse of BART Police as Private Security for His Re-election Campaign Fundraiser

On December 10th, a formal complaint was filed with the Attorney General’s office against BART Director Robert Raburn for his misuse of public funds for his re-election campaign. Last Thursday, BART workers who were participating in a peaceful protest against the Director Raburn were appalled to learn that he was using BART police officers as private security for his re-election campaign fundraiser at Warehouse 416 in Oakland.

BART police officers serving as security guards at Director Raburn’s personal fundraising event revealed to protesters that they were “on orders” to be at the event.

The complaint charges that Director Raburn is in violation of California Penal Code section 424, which prohibits state and local officers charged with the oversight or disbursement of public funds from using such funds for any purpose not authorized by law. The law prohibits public funds from being used for campaign purposes.

The complaint also requested an investigation from the Attorney General as to whether Director Raburn violated Government Code section 8314, which prohibits state and local elected officers, such as BART directors, from using or permitting others to use public resources for campaign activity.  Public resources include any state-compensated time and campaign activities include anything considered a contribution or independent expenditure under state campaign finance law.

Police logs for December 5th also revealed that, while BART police were providing private security to Director Raburn at his campaign fundraising event, a crime was being committed against a rider at a nearby station. A rider reported that a phone was grabbed and stolen from her as she was sitting in a San Francisco-bound train.

“We’ve repeatedly requested greater security for the riders and the workers, particularly in areas with a lot of crime.” said Saul Almanza, a BART worker who was present at the protest. “It’s frustrating to see that Director Raburn would rather use BART police as his private security detail, than prioritize the safety of the riders or the workers who keep BART running.

Read of a copy of the complaint filed with the Attorney General and District Attorney (PDF)

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Community Members Join Workers in Taking a Stand Against BART Director Raburn’s Anti-Worker Agenda

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Community members and BART workers protested the re-election campaign kick-off of BART Director Robert Raburn on Thursday, outraged at his right-wing, anti-worker approach as a member of the BART Board of Directors.

As a member of the BART Board of Directors, Director Raburn’s actions have led to two strikes, a less safe and efficient transportation system, and instability at the transit agency.

BART workers and their fellow community members held pickets that read “BART needs leadership, not Robert Raburn” and “Shame on Raburn.” They also pointed out Director Raburn’s disgraceful record as a member of the BART Board of Directors. As a member of the Board, Director Raburn has:

- Authorized the BART General Manager to spend close to half a million dollars to hire Thomas Hock, a contract negotiator known to incite strikes, and who Robert Raburn allowed to spend Bay Area taxpayer dollars on fine dining and alcohol and to be absent during critical times of labor negotiations

- allowed the training of inexperienced, replacement drivers to operate trains during the BART strike, which resulted in the tragic deaths of two workers

- is being sued in Alameda Superior court for breaking state law for refusing to honor a signed, final, and complete agreement with BART’s workers.

The protest on Thursday, December 6 is part of a movement to ensure responsible leadership at the BART Board of Directors, that stands up for Bay Area values and that is committed to strengthening BART.

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BART’s Largest Unions File Lawsuit Against All Members of the BART Board of Directors

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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.”

Download a factsheet on the lawsuit (PDF)

Download a statement released by the Alameda Labor Council, San Francisco Labor Council, and San Mateo Labor Council condemning the BART Board’s unlawful actions (PDF)

Download a copy of the complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court (PDF)

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SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 Statement on the BART Board’s Recent Illegitimate Action on Contract Ratification

Oakland, CA – Today BART’s largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, issued the following joint statement on the BART Board’s recent vote regarding whether to ratify the labor contracts:

“We consider the Board’s actions to be unprecedented and illegitimate, and we’re considering our next steps, including possible legal action.

The BART Board of Directors has disregarded the vote of more than two thousand BART workers and has chosen to subvert the collective bargaining process, and we take their actions seriously.”

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