After several months of dispute and two strikes, BART and its two largest unions have drafted a series of tentative agreements to resolve remaining labor contract issues.
In their latest negotiation meeting on Dec. 20, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and BART addressed paid family medical leave, eligibility for overtime pay and updating break rooms, among other administrative issues.
The meeting is the latest in an ongoing discussion between the two unions and BART that addresses safety concerns, workers’ benefits and other issues. BART workers went on strike in early July and mid-October, leaving an estimated 400,000 daily BART commuters without transportation.
According to the latest tentative agreements, BART expanded its bereavement policy to include paid time off in the event of the death or imminent death of a grandchild or stepparent of a spouse or domestic partner. BART and the unions also tentatively amended their state pension fund to allow employees to have other service credit options.
Additionally, break rooms at three stations will be renovated and by the BART districts’ station modernization program, which aims to make BART facilities safer and more energy-efficient.
“We want to restore certainty to our riders that service will remain safe and efficient and can plan accordingly knowing that BART will be there,” said Saul Almanza, vice president of BART Professional Chapter for SEIU 1021 and a BART employee. “For our members, it will give them the confidence that we have a contract that is fair and equitable for them and their families.”
All of the costs associated with these agreements are covered by BART’s existing budget, according to BART’s press release.
“After eight months of uncertainty for our riders, this deal will guarantee that every ounce of the agency’s focus will be directed to providing great service to the Bay Area during the peak holiday period and beyond,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican in a formal statement.
Some union members and workers, however, have expressed skepticism about the long-term efficacy of the tentative resolutions.
“These are things that we can live with,” said Antonette Bryant, president and business agent of ATU 1555. “It is just a step in the right direction with many steps to go.”
Almanza added that the upcoming discussions will be “a work in progress” and will hopefully avoid a rehash of last week’s negotiations.
The BART Board of Directors will vote to ratify the agreement, and the unions will then vote on it. Once ratified, the contract terms will go into effect, said Cecille Isidro, SEIU 1021 spokesperson, in an email.
SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 have tentative plans to ratify the agreements in early January, according to Almanza and Bryant.