Phil Matier: Employee Health Care, Pensions Eating Up BART Revenues

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Passengers get off of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train as it arrives at the Daly City station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Passengers get off of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train as it arrives at the Daly City station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – While Bay Area Rapid Transit and its unions continue to be deadlocked over a new contract, there are other issues now coming to light.

Employee health care and pensions have eaten up nearly half of the new revenue BART has brought in over the last three years, even though their actual wages have not gone up during that time.

Part of this has to do with the contributions of employees. At BART, employees pay a flat rate of $92 a month, whether it’s for one person or a family of four. Salary doesn’t factor into the rate either. BART officials said they’d like to change this formula to a percentage, meaning employees would start picking up a percentage of health care costs, which go up.

During the 30-day cooling off period, another issue that has come up is BART’s policy on paying for unused sick days, holiday and vacation. Managers have especially taken advantage of the payback policy, with the most prominent beneficiary being former general manager Dorothy Dugger.

Dugger, whose annual salary was $298,700, accrued 80 weeks of unused vacation and sick time in her 20 years with the transit agency. To pay it off, BART allowed her to take “terminal leave,” meaning she was kept on the books as an employee for more than 19 months after leaving in 2011.

She earned more than $333,000 during that time and perhaps more importantly, by staying on the payroll, she accrued another 17 weeks of sick time and vacation, totaling almost $100,000.

Although Dugger’s case is on the extreme side, several other longtime employees also received major payouts from an accrual of unused sick time and vacation days, something BART General Manager Grace Crunican said she will be looking closely at, to see exactly how much the policy is costing the agency.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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