VALLEJO (KPIX 5) – While BART management and unions continue to negotiate, KPIX 5 has found the facility where managers are learning to operate trains in the event of a possible strike.
On Sunday, two BART trains were loaded onto a truck and sent to a warehouse at Mare Island in Vallejo. The warehouse is the staging ground for training managers if workers go on strike after the cooling-off period expires on October 10th.
BART officials told KPIX 5 that some managers are former train operators. They said it does not violate the contract because they are not driving on the rails.
“We have two trains that are off of BART property, on Mare Island that we have set up. There’s no tracks out there, there’s no third rail power,” said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost. “It’s mainly so employees that may want to be certified, or are certified want a refresher course go in and re-familiarize.”
Union leaders said operating a train is a skill that takes more lesions than what the managers are getting. They insist what BART is doing could be dangerous for passengers.
“They don’t operate trains on regular basis. I worry about something happening,” said Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
“Say they need to evacuate a train, do they know those intricate procedures? Do they know what happens if a train derails or a switch splits? They don’t know any of that. And it’s unconscionable that they would even do this,” Bryant said.
The transit agency insists they need to plan for a strike that could possibly last for a month. Officials said if the BART Board of Directors approves management driving the trains in a strike, it would only be on a limited basis.
“It would only be a few trains going through the Transnbay Tube during the peak of the peak commute. But it’s really on BART to make sure we have some back up plan,” Trost said.
The unions said BART’s plan proves management does not expect to have an agreement.
“What they need to be doing is putting in the effort they’re using to train these managers to get a deal done. That’s what we’re doing,” Bryant said.
Talks between management and unions are still at a stalemate, with meetings set to resume on Monday. If both sides don’t agree to a new contract by the deadline, a strike could be called immediately. BART workers previously walked off the job for four days in early July.
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