A commuter prepares to board a BART train with her bicycle. (SF Bicycle Coalition/Flickr)

By Isabel Angell

The second deadline for a contract between BART and its unions is quickly approaching, but the two sides still have a long way to go if they want to prevent a second strike.

BART issued a statement today saying the unions’ request for a wage increase would mean an 18 percent fare hike for riders. That means the unions have stuck with their offer before the strike– a 20.1 percent raise over three years. BART spokesman Rick Rice confirmed the two sides haven’t moved on the salary issue.

“That’s a current estimate. And our current proposal is still at 8 percent over four years.”

This is the first mention of the state of negotiations since the 4½-day strike in early July, when the state mediator handling the talks asked both sides to keep details out of the press. But Rice said this statement doesn’t break the state mediator’s request.

“We’re talking about where we were before the current agreement,” he said, even though those positions are current as of today.

But SEIU 1021 Executive Director Peter Castelli says BART violated the gag order with this statement, and accused them of bargaining in bad faith.

“One, to characterize it like this, it’s false. Two, it’s propaganda. Three, it’s designed to turn people against the workers, and it’s totally inappropriate and inaccurate,” he said.

The bad blood between BART and unions continued today, as protesters interrupted BART General Manager Grace Crunican’s speech to a public transit group in San Francisco. They demanded she dismiss BART’s outside negotiator, Thomas Hock, calling him a union-buster.

Castelli said Hock has been absent for the last 10 days of negotiations and the two sides haven’t been able to discuss the big issues. They will be back at the table — with Hock — on Tuesday. BART and the unions have six days before the extended contract expires.

  • Amanda

    18% fare increase?!? we’d better see 18% better service.

    • KARNEP

      Fat chance of that!

  • Chris DeLong

    There will be no increase in the value of your service. I wonder if they have considered the fall in demand for BART services as fares increase. If people are paying $400 a month in BART fares they will start to consider other options. Carpooling, telecommuting, etc… Eventually ridership and revenue will decrease and the funds to pay salaries won’t be there.

    • syradobomako

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      With or Without Strike, the BART
      Board have already approved Fare Increase for 2014 at 18%. This is to
      inform the Public that the Fare Increase is not affected by the BART
      Strike.

      • Anonymous

        And…. if they get the demand increase they want, the fares will go up even more in 2015. I would suspect the increase is greatly influenced but what BART expects to be an increase in costs, let alone increases in costs they have already resigned themselves to in the negotiations.

  • Thirdy Elegado Medina

    With or Without Strike, the BART Board have already approved Fare Increase for 2014 at 18%. This is to inform the Public that the Fare Increase is not affected by the BART Strike.

    • Concord rider

      How can it be possible? The money to pay unions additionally will come from where? Bart has to cut their obligations to extend services to Livermore, Fremont, Antioch (where pleple have been paying taxes for it), replacing aged equipment? Union people see Bart as a cash cow, just squeeze.

  • Meg

    Maybe they could then clean the trains …or do I have to pay another 18% if barts cleaning lady goes to strike? No wait, she is …. since1996… that’s then they cleaned the last time.

  • doombunny

    As it is, most of the union employees make more money than TEACHERS. When I think of that, I start to think that BART should break this union, a position that I’ve never previously supported.

    • BART rider

      And how exactly will breaking the BART workers’ union help teachers? If teachers went on strike would you advocate breaking their union as well? How would lower pay and reduced benefits for BART workers benefit us? Why do family-supporting wages for BART workers seem unfair to you? I want clean cars and even free fares and I believe that we could have those things but they do not have to come at the expense of decent-paying jobs for train operators and others who keep the trains running. For example, developers and businesses see their property values skyrocket when a station is built nearby, yet they have paid NOTHING to support this crucial transportation system. Instead of beating up on BART workers, why don’t we demand that these stakeholders pay their share? After all, BART delivers employees and customers to their doors every day – if that is important to them, THEY should pay for it, not the riders, nor the BART workers. This op-ed makes some good points:http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Labor-makes-a-stand-first-in-Wisconsin-now-BART-4694427.php?t=cdd7e1c725cbc2d472

      • KARNEP

        Most BART postions do no require much/any special education and their pay and benefits are well above similarly skilled positions. To raise the pay to what they want, people who earn less than they do and who are ALSO trying to support themselves and families, have to pay higher ticket prices. And they’re not cheap now. They are asking for too much. They could all be fired and replaced with people who would work for a little less that the BART folks get paid now, especially with the benefits added. We could save money for everyone. Greed just doesn’t figure in today’s world. Reality is Calif. is broke, the US is broke, we can’t give outrageous raises. I worked 6 years at a lawfirm with no raises – and out of 20 years there, there was another time with no raises for 5 years. Then, when we got them, they were 1% plus maybe a small bonus at the end of the year. Times are hard for most of us. They should be glad they’re employed and have benefits.

    • erpderp

      Teachers have their own union too.

  • Tired

    Remember the Air traffic controller strike August 1981. Same thing should happen here.
    71k a year plus overtime, and what do they pay for medical. Must be union involved. Now they want more. Well fire their Butt’s for not being thankful for what they have in this day and time. My bet is there are plenty of people out there that would do those jobs for much less and be very happy to get it. Get rid of the union and the over paid bunch of thankless workers. The city station escalator’s smell like toilets, High smelling bum’s ride to sleep. Cars are trashed out most the time. They send a 5 car train when a 10 car is needed.
    Then get this . One afternoon we find a unattended backpack at the Embarcadero station. Called the operator. Did it stop the train from going through the tunnel. NO. Did the BART police arrive to retrieve . NO. Some Bart person came for it at the 19th street station.
    Wonder what would of happen at the airport…

    At this point I would say most all the jobs at BART are overpaid for the type work being done. Being that the state is broke, the city’s are broke. If it were a corporation in these times what would they get. What the most of us have received the last 4 years. Nothing much. Its not keeping the cost of living down either. Fire their Butts let them find that kind of money elsewhere if they think they are worth so much. Let the rest of us do their jobs for much less and not have to pay union dues. Time for a change i say. BART is going to be down anyway.

  • parvinder

    Hopefully a comprise can be done they need Willie Brown & Gov Brown involed…

    • Anonymous

      As I responded above, if they get the demand increase they want, the fares will go up
      even more in 2015. I would suspect the increase is greatly influenced
      but what BART expects to be an increase in costs, let alone increases in
      costs they have already resigned themselves to in the negotiations.

  • Anonymous

    Bart workers, in general, are grossly overpaid for their
    jobs, and get the best benefits of anyone in the state. This is not based on propaganda or news
    article- I went and looked at a public list that SHOWS salaries by name and
    job. (I will not repost because I do NOT like that
    the employees names are listed, but it is out there and it is easy to find). Based on average salaries and what is public
    knowledge, IMO the only job at BART I do think is currently underpaid is the
    police force. The rest of Bart employees
    are WAY above average pay for even union
    workers. I do not think they deserve any
    increase until the average salaries for the state catch up to what they make
    now – which IMO would be at least another 10-20 years.

    For example, over 60K a year STARTING SALARY to sit in a
    cube and give out information, get a pension, and healthcare for their entire
    family for 92$ a month,, is an example of gross overpayment. I know ATTORNEYS who work over 60 hours a
    week, in the bay area who don’t make that much starting salary, and nowhere
    near those benefits (and don’t get any overtime pay!).

    In comparison, bus drivers for Tri Valley Delta Transit TOP
    OUT at around $42K. (IMO that is
    underpaid) – they deal with just as dangerous situations as BART employees, and
    they DON’T have their own police force.

    I would be sympathetic to the unions IF they were ONLY fighting
    for safer conditions. IMO any pay increase demands are ridiculous. I think the management increase of 8% over
    several years is MUCH more than it should be, and overly generous.

    IMO if pay increase continues to be a demand of the union, I
    hope Management fires them all. I know
    some attorneys who would gladly cross picket lines to get the current pay,
    benefit, and working hours.

  • danielle

    I live in Russian Hill and work in Financial District so normally could care less about bart. My boss said if bart strikes u don’t need to come in …she lives in Lafayette. I work part-time and hourly…I cannot afford to miss one day. I’ve been reading about what a bunch of spoiled high schoolers…Hello I have a BA from Berkeley and don’t make as much as bart workers with their GEDs.

  • Freewilly

    I would quit my (almost) 6 figure job and take up this job in a blink of an eye, and m sure there are thousands out there who would take it up for a lesser pay. All you have to do is sit there with a bag of MC’D and apologize for Embarcadero elevator going out of service. Just start hiring a couple of Chinese and Indians and see how many people will still be out there putting up a strike.

  • disgusted

    bark workers you suck. I’m not paying for your lazy ass

  • I_Rican99

    What can we do as riders to stop this greed driven robbery? How can we as the riders protest the Bart Union?

    It’s sad to think how the purpose of unions (to provide fair, safe working conditions) has changed into another greed driven entity! These people are making a great wage, yet want more. The Bart stations are in shambles and can be quite disgusting… Perhaps people wouldn’t be so opposed to an increase if the service was comparable to Portland, NYC… affordable and efficient!

    • tired

      What can we do as riders? Well most people do not understand the power they have. People today do not want to take the time and effort to fix things. Thus the reason America is crumbling for the average person. People today are either griping about it or joining some activist group. Think about it the next time you go to the store and do the self serve check out and then wonder why there are no checkers. Remember you do not get a discount for doing the self serve. So the store makes the extra $ that was factored in for a checker. If people did not shop at stores with self check outs. They would go away. Oh and guess what, there would be more jobs. Likewise, In the BART case, The ridership goes on strike. We don’t ride till the union is gone and the workers are paid a resonable amount. And don’t kid yourself if the workers are that over paid. You have got to know management is as well. Yes it would mean long tips to work, over crowed public transit, and a big mess for awhile. But as a whole the public had spoke and i doubt BART could run a month without money coming in. But people today don’t have the American guts like it took to make this country. We are a bunch of brain washed cows that think we are helpless. I myself have quit riding BART. It costs more everyday, But I am looking for a job elsewhere. Hope everyone else does. If they did company’s would move to the people not the people to the company’s
      Yup the American Dream is just that a Dream.

  • Guest

    As the taxpayers and riders, I say we start a movement to replace BART management and its employees with a new team of hires, automated BART trains, new controls in place to keep trains safe, efficient and clean. Last but not least, include more stakeholders in absorbing the costs of services (I.e corporations) to help offset the burdens of modernizing trains to get people to work.

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