BART Board Rejects Family Leave Clause; Contract Deal In Jeopardy
OAKLAND (KCBS) — The tentative agreement that ended the Bay Area Rapid Transit strike last month was not ratified by the agency’s board of directors during Thursday’s vote.
BART directors voted 8-1 to approve a tentative contract agreement with its two largest unions—but without a controversial clause that they say was included by accident.
The deal was derailed by a clause that gives workers six weeks of paid family leave which BART Director Gail Murray said she can’t accept because it could cost another 6 to $44 million over the life of the four-year deal. BART officials said that element of the contract was inadvertently included by a temporary employee.
“I just can’t accept the contract the way it is. It’s just too much potential liability for the district,” she said before Thursday’s vote.
Union leaders estimated that it would only cost about $5 to $6 million.
Employees currently use vacation or sick time, or floating holidays, to take time off when family members have medical issues.
Management has asked the unions to take the contract back to members with the clause removed.
The unions have so far refused to remove the provision that BART management said was mistakenly put in the deal.
Union leaders did not return KCBS’ calls for comment on Wednesday but earlier this week Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Executive Director Pete Castelli said they’re taking the situation step by step.
“We have to evaluate where we go; we’re not sure. This is something unprecedented; we’ve never seen and it’s disturbing,” he said.
BART Board President Tom Radulovich issued the following statement:
“Today the BART Board of Directors voted 8 to 1 to accept the $67 million offer that was agreed to at the bargaining table with our unions. We hope the unions will take the agreement minus the six weeks of additional paid leave that was mistakenly included in the final document, back to their members.
Simply put, the District cannot afford to give its employees another six weeks of paid leave, on top of the generous leave already allowed in the BART employee benefit package.
If the union members ratify the contract minus the mistaken proposal, the Board also gives the General Manager authority to sign the contract without another Board vote.”
Pete Castelli, Executive Director of SEIU 1021, issued the this statement:
“We’re disappointed that the BART Board of Directors had decided not to fulfill their commitment to the workers and the riders by approving contracts without the provision on family medical leave. The unions have voted on and ratified these contracts in their entirety.
The Board’s vote does not lead to reaching an expeditious resolution but to further confusion. We’ve been willing to discuss the implementation of the disputed provision, but BART Management and the Board of Directors have chosen to prolong the process and hold the fate of the riders, the workers, and the Bay Area in the balance. They’ve cited over-inflated costs of family medical leave that would allow workers to care for gravely ill family members or bond with newborn or newly-adopted children.
Right now we are considering all options, meeting with workers who have ratified this contract, and working to find a way to reach a resolution to BART management’s alleged mistake in the agreement it made with its workers.”
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