OAKLAND (CBS) — Union leaders working to strike a deal with BART on a new contract are accusing BART’s lead negotiator, Tom Hock, of having a “blatant conflict of interest” and have asked BART to remove him from his position.
Hock is the Vice President of Labor Relations for Veolia Transportation, which brokered two deals with BART during the July strike, to provide paratransit vehicles to replace the trains that were no longer running. The contracts for the two deals added up to about $30-thousand.
“Thomas Hock has a direct financial interest in the occurrence of a strike and he has a direct financial interest in a prolonged strike,” said Keri Anne Steel, an attorney for SEIU Local 1021.
BART spokesman Rick Rice acknowledged that Hocks’s company, Veolia brokered the two deals, but said Veolia only received $500 for their services.
“It’s five-hundred bucks,” Rice told reporters. “We do not believe that creates a conflict.”
He also said he believes that Hock will remain BART’s lead negotiator.
Rice said Veolia had been serving as a broker for BART for six years.
SEIU and the Amalgamated Transit Union have asked the BART Board of Directors to conduct an investigation of Hock. Steele indicated that the unions would consider the possibility of taking legal action if Hock was not removed.
Tom Radulovich, the president of the BART Board of Directors could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Hock has been on a 10-day vacation as negotiations have continued. He is expected to return to the bargaining table Tuesday.