OAKLAND (KCBS) – Six weeks before BART begins new contract talks with one of its transit workers’ unions, a new report has surfaced that sheds light on the practice by some employees of not showing up for work.

According to records obtained and published by the San Francisco Examiner newspaper, on average, one in eight BART workers misses his or her scheduled shift each day. Replacement workers, according to the Examiner, cost the transit agency $13 million annually.

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Contract talks between Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, the union representing train operators and stations agents, are slated to begin in April. It will be the first round of negotiations since 2009’s tense talks, during which time BART workers threatened to strike.

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The looming contract talks, coupled with the report about worker absences, has ATU 1555 president Antonette Bryant scratching her head.

“It just seems a little suspect, don’t you think, that all of a sudden now, weeks before contract negotiations, you hear this,” she theorized.

“I actually take issue with the actual percentages,” she questioned the numbers reported by the Examiner. “People have illnesses. They have family emergencies. They have sickness. They have injuries at work that cause them to miss work. That’s something that every company has to factor into their budget when they’re preparing it.”

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