BART contract on hold pending board vote

Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. ExaminerA broken section of rail that led to major BART delays could be from a batch of bad rail

The “error” BART management claims to have made in signing off on the agreement between the transit agency and its unions has put hundreds of thousands of riders back in limbo until the board votes Thursday, and possibly in jeopardy of facing a third strike.

If the transit agency board rejects the tentative agreement — which BART officials say “inadvertently” includes a family medical leave provision giving workers up to six weeks of paid time off each year — the two major unions can strike again, assume negotiations, take legal action, or some or all of those options, according to Chris Daly, political director for Service Employees International Union Local 1021. Riders should be outraged, he said.

SEIU and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 do not plan to choose a course of action until the board meeting, which they hope will result in approval of the contract.

Neither union has met since BART officials voted 7-1 on Friday night to release a statement expressing concerns at the potential cost of the leave provision. The board ordered the transit agency’s general manager to restart talks with union representatives.

“There has been no determination made to enter into negotiations,” said ATU president Antonette Bryant. “SEIU and ATU are going to be meeting some time this week.”

Even if the unions go back to the table, “with how brutal this contract negotiation has been and how terrible this latest fiasco is, it is very unlikely that either bargaining unit could get a positive vote on anything less than what has currently been voted,” Daly said.

“Hypothetically, if BART was willing to give more on safety, I could see giving something on [family medical leave],” he said. “But it’s got to be significant, or we might as well go back on strike.”

BART officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

In an email to media Saturday night, BART Director Zakhark Mallett explained he was the lone dissenting vote on the motion to release the statement because it was “selectively transparent” on what led to the slip-up. </p>

“BART’s Board of Directors would more than likely have to vote ‘no’ on the contract in order to address this miscommunication-based clerical error,” Mallett revealed.

Daly was skeptical.

“The truth is they drafted it and when we pointed it out, they tried to throw one of their clerical people down under the bus,” he said.

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