Phil Matier: The Bottom Line On The BART Deal
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — It’s expected that members of Bay Area Rapid Transit’s two biggest unions will ratify the tentative agreements reached with management this past Monday that ended the crippling four-day strike.
The BART Board of Directors is expected to do the same—though at least one board member has gone on the record as saying he’ll cast a ‘no’ vote.
BART management got pretty close to what only could have been realistically expected out of the deal but didn’t get what that they wanted—that was no pay raises; the unions asked for 20 percent, they got 15 percent.
The bottom line is that BART workers came out ahead. They were going to come out ahead at the beginning. After two strikes, they came out way ahead—more than they thought.
BART spent substantial money in bringing in an outside negotiator and the result of that decision remains to be seen. The other side had over 40 negotiators that were all on the BART payroll as well. While it’s not unusual to have a few union representatives versus the management, this was bigger than the California State Senate.
So when it comes to the final financial cost of the negotiations, it’s going to be a mind boggler.
BART wanted to change the overall work culture; there were old rules that were flabby and allowed for overtime abuses. They also wanted to change two fundamental issues with public employee unions—pension and healthcare.
In the past, BART and public employees—city or county—usually sat down to try to figure out how to make the union deal work. This time, BART came in and tried to say they were going to make their own deal and that, this time, there would be takeaways.
So there, the fight began and it was inevitable that local politicians were going to weigh in on the side of the unions, local business groups were going to weigh in on the side of BART and that there was going to be a strike. Everyone was armed to the teeth and saw it as a line drawn in the sand.
The other cost of the strike will be a lasting damaged relationship between BART and the employees.
During the press conference, they weren’t holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” They were saying “get over it.”
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