BART Strike Update: What Happens Next on Union Contracts?
We all saw it on TV last night (or read it somewhere): BART management and its unions have reached an agreement that ends the four-day transit strike.
But the reality is a little more complicated. The union contracts are complex documents, including 30 to 40 years’ worth of side agreements about how work is conducted at the agency. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 contract with the district, negotiated in 2009, runs to more than 450 pages; the contract for the BART chapter of SEIU Local 1021 is more than 300 pages long.
So BART and union officials are continuing to meet with a federal mediator today to finish the language in the contracts announced last night. No details of the agreement have been made public yet, though the unions said before they went on strike last Friday that they were very close to an agreement on pay, pension and medical benefits. The walkout was triggered by BART’s insistence for basic changes in work rules. The unions suggested submitting the work rules dispute to arbitration, but BART said it would only consider arbitration if the whole contract, including economic issues, was under consideration. Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News suggests that the two sides compromised on the work rules issue in the end:
The deal that averted the #BARTstrike is a 4-year contract that includes arbitration for some disputed work rules issues.
— Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) October 22, 2013
Des Patten, a negotiator for SEIU Local 1021, told Bay City News ”There’s still some clean-up work to be completed” before his union and ATU Local 1555 can present the tentative pact to their members for a ratification vote.
He said the earliest SEIU Local 1021 members would vote on the tentative agreement would be Friday and it’s possible the vote might not take place until sometime next week.
BART spokesman Jim Allison told BCN the transit agency’s board of directors won’t vote on the tentative agreement until after it is approved by both unions, assuming that they approve it.
Allison said that if the unions approve the contract, the board will likely schedule a special meeting to vote on it.
Patten said the unions will not release the details of the tentative agreement until after they present the contract to their members.