On Tuesday, two BART labor unions filed a lawsuit against the BART Board of Directors in the Alameda County Superior Court, alleging that the transit agency illegally excluded a family medical leave clause from the contract it approved Nov. 21.
The unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, claim the provision had been part of a final total package agreement that the three parties had signed Oct. 21, ending the unfair labor practices strike. The clause would have allowed BART union employees to have six additional weeks of paid leave annually.
According to BART spokesperson Jim Allison, the BART Board of Directors approved the contract and excluded the provision because it had been accidentally included by a temporary employee.
If one-third of union employees take this additional leave each year, the provision could cost up to about $44 million, Allison said.
“District negotiators would never have knowingly agreed to such a financially backbreaking proposal,” said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost in a statement issued by the agency. “This unnecessary action will only delay resolution to BART’s labor contract. A lawsuit is not needed to correct a mistake.”
The board rejected the proposal twice before the unions withdrew it, and the board reaffirmed the withdrawal, according to the statement.
The unions, however, claim that the clause had been part of the signed agreement and that there had been no mistake.
SEIU 1021 spokesperson Cecille Isidro said this lawsuit is mainly about BART breaking the law by excluding the clause that was initially agreed upon from the contract without the unions’ consent.
“An agreement is an agreement,” Isidro said. “There were a series of opportunities when they could have brought it up and said this was a mistake, but they didn’t. They decided to cherry-pick and say even though we bargained an entire contract (with the unions), this is the version that we want.”
BART officials will be reviewing the lawsuit over the next few days.