BART Strike Comes to End -- For Now
The BART strike came to an end Friday at 3 p.m. after the transit agency and unions agreed to extend the current contract to have 30 more days of negotiation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, state Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern and state mediators made the request, since there was still much negotiation to do. The Chronicle wrote that: “When asked how many contract issues remain to be resolved, Morgenstern could only chuckle. ‘I don't have that much time,’ he said.”
The Chronicle also reported that Morgenstern thanked the unions for ending their strike for now, stating: "It's not easy to come back off a strike without a contract."
Negotiations between the two parties took place for nine hours Tuesday night, 10 hours Wednesday and 12 hours Thursday. However, it appears that not much progress was made.
Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents BART’s train operators and station agents, told the Chronicle, "The last week has been a complete waste of time … We're still waiting for BART to respond to a proposal we made last Sunday."
Pete Castelli, executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents BART’s mechanics, maintenance workers and professional staff, told the Chronicle, "They keep bringing up the small stuff, but we're not even talking about the main issues.”
He also raised concerns that BART management has been working with anti-labor consultants and hopes to impose a contract on BART workers. This imposition can occur if negotiations are at a stalemate. The employer, then, can make its “last, best and final offer,” which striking workers must accept when they decide to come off strike.
According to the Chronicle, while BART management has denied these motivations, they had scheduled, then canceled, two board meetings this week, which included the agenda item "unilateral implementation of certain terms and conditions of employment for employees." A spokeswoman said the item was simply “procedural.”
Four years ago, however, a contract was imposed on BART workers with the ATU after the union rejected their final offer.
While the current contract will be extended until Aug. 4, the new contract will be retroactive to July 1. Unions head back to the bargaining table on Monday.
For more information on the strike and workers’ demands, check out “7 Key Things You Need to Know About the BART Strike in California."
UPDATE: This afternoon, SEIU 1021 released a statement expressing disappointment with BART management for "stalling" negotiations. Castelli said:
We are happy to be back to work moving the Bay Area, but we do so knowing that BART management has raised hypocrisy to a whole new level. Management has spent taxpayer money on themselves like they were Wall Street bankers! While BART General Manager Grace Crunican pays herself $320,000/year, she refuses to adjust employee compensation to simply keep up with the cost of living here in the Bay Area.
BART management has spent a million dollars of taxpayer money paying consultants to pursue a union busting strategy based on the tactics of what anti-labor forces have done in the Midwest over the last several years. But we have news for them: the Bay Area will stand up for working people.