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.