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Rail News: Labor

SEIU, ATU sue BART's board over labor contract

Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) two largest unions yesterday filed a lawsuit against the agency's board members, claiming they unlawfully removed a paid family medical leave provision before ratifying a labor contract with the unions last month.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1555 filed the complaint in Alameda County Superior Court in California, alleging that BART board members "took illegal action in reneging on the strike-ending agreement they had reached with the unions," SEIU officials said in a press release.

"The ratification process is not an opportunity for the Board of Directors to cherry-pick the portions of a new contract that it likes and discard the others," said Kerianne Steele, an attorney for SEIU 1021. "BART is bound by the total package agreement they negotiated."

The board voted Nov. 21 to remove the section from the contract, then ordered BART General Manager Grace Crunican to execute a contract with the unions only if their members voted to approve a modified version of the agreement that did not include the provision. BART officials have said the provision was mistakenly included in the final contract.

In a prepared statement, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the lawsuit was an "unnecessary action" that would only delay the contract's resolution. The provision that was accidentally left in the final contract would provide BART union employees six weeks of paid leave per year, in addition to the three to six weeks of vacation, 13 paid holidays and 12 sick days they already receive annually.

"When mistakes are made in contract negotiations they are corrected administratively by the parties, acting in good faith," said Trost. "Fortunately this mistake was caught in time before the mistaken language was brought before the district's board for ratification."

She called on union leaders to allow their members to vote on the corrected agreement "so BART can move forward with a renewed focus on providing safe, reliable and convenient transportation under a fair labor contract."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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