(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

With the contracts between BART and its 2,800 employees set to expire on June 30 and a strike authorization vote set for Tuesday, the tension between the transit agency and its workers ratcheted up a notch today with the filing of a lawsuit by the two largest unions. The suit by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and SEIU Local 1021 accuses BART of violating state law by not bargaining in good faith.

The unions are asking for salary increases of 5 percent over three years plus automatic cost-of-living increases, in addition to health and safety protections. BART, on the other hand, wants workers to pay more for their health and pension benefits.

From the Chronicle last week …

All BART employees pay $92 a month, regardless of plan or number of people covered, for health insurance that costs the agency from almost $700 to more than $2,000 per employee monthly, said Carter Mau, executive manager of planning and budget. Employees don’t contribute anything to their state pension plans, with BART picking up both the employer and employee shares.

The unions are also making an issue of public safety, stating that more than 1,000 physical attacks on riders have occurred in the transit system over the last three years. The issue came to the fore recently when a video of a nude man who attacked several passengers went viral over the Internet.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said in a statement today that the unions were “diverting attention from the real issues of increasing pension and medical costs” and called the lawsuit a “ploy” and a “smoke screen.”

Last week, at the request of BART management, state mediators were called in to help facilitate an agreement.

  • BAresident

    Once again, poor journalism at it’s best. BART employees receive NO, ZERO, NADA Social Security. BART opted out of it years ago and decided to pay into the retirement scheme to replace Social Security. Stop making it look like they receive both. It still works out cheaper for BART to do this rather than pay SS. Carter Mau also refuses to mention that the after all the scandal recently with the previous GM, the new GM was vested after only two years with BART, instead of the usual 5. This means that after two years of service with BART she will leave with full Pension and medical benefits. She also receives $11K a year pay increases plus COLA

    • Bubu

      Right you are BA…What the public needs to know is that there is a class warfare going on between management and the workers. Look to management if you want to see how your tax money and fare money is spent. BART management has receive raises in the alst 4 years and after the contract is settled they will receive another raise – all while saying “suckers”.

  • A Guest

    If these union slugs are so concerned about rider safety, why did all the BART employees go lock themselves in booths and run away and hide when the naked acrobat was terrorizing the station in the Mission?!? Why not DO SOMETHING TO HELP?!?

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor