An End to the BART Dispute to Give Relief To Bay Area Commuters

By: Brittany Uslaner

The commuting nightmare of numerous San Francisco citizens will hopefully be over this coming week as it appears a deal has been reached to settle the contract dispute between the management of Bay Area Rapid Transit, known as BART, and BART employees.  BART employees are largely represented by two unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.[1]  These workers are responsible for “carrying 400,000 passengers daily between the East Bay and San Francisco”.[2]  In July, the failure between the unions and BART to reach a contract resulted in a four and a half day walkout by BART workers.[3]  The walkout ended when California Governor Jerry Brown “called for a 60 day-cooling off period”.[4]  With the cooling off period over on October 10, negotiations resumed between the union and BART.[5]

On the night of October 17, after 28 straight hours of negotiations, union leaders and BART management still had not reached a deal.[6]  With no deal in place, BART employees were to begin what would turn into a four-day strike.[7]  As commuter frustration and anger towards both sides increased, the pressure to reach a deal greatly increased.[8]  On October 19, a trainer operated by an employee in training killed two BART workers in the East Bay area.[9]  Finally a four-year deal was reached over the terms of the new contract thereby leading to the end of the strike and the resumption of BART service on October 22.[10]

Under the terms of the deal, BART maintenance workers, station agents, and train operators will get a 15.4 percent wage increase over the next four years.[11]  Employees who had previously been paying nothing towards their pensions will start contributing four percent.[12]   The amount employees are to pay into their health coverage will rise from $92 per month to $130 per month.[13]  This contract will put a cap on, but not eliminate overtime rules for sick pay and extra shifts.[14]  Fifteen station-agents booths will have bulletproof glass installed in them.[15]  Additionally, BART will make various technological upgrades to its facilities.[16]  By Friday November 1, 2013, both unions had voted to approve the contracts.[17]  However, BART board members still need to vote on the new deal with the unions at a future meeting.[18]

The ramifications of the BART strike are yet to be seen.  With election day approaching, one if left to wonder if the voters of the Bay Area will blame those in office for not putting enough pressure on the unions and BART to end the strike.  Perhaps the citizens of the Bay Area will place blame on the unions leading to the diminishment of union power in the area.  The consequences for those directly involved in the strike may be uncertain, but at least the commute of 400,000 passengers will hopefully be a lot less unpleasant this coming week.


[1] BART unions ratify labor deals that ended four-day rail strike, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bart-unions-ratify-labor-deals-20131102,0,7298606.story#axzz2jbyi3EE0

[2] San Francisco Area Transit Strike Stymies Commuters, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/us/bart-labor-dispute-san-francisco-commute.html?_r=0

[3] BART unions ratify labor deals that ended four-day rail strike, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bart-unions-ratify-labor-deals-20131102,0,7298606.story#axzz2jbyi3EE0

[4] Id. 

[5] San Francisco Area Transit Strike Stymies Commuters, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/us/bart-labor-dispute-san-francisco-commute.html?_r=0

[6] Id. 

[7] Id. 

[8] Id. 

[9] BART Unions Ratify Contract That Ended Strike, ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/bart-union-ratifies-contract-ended-strike-20763533

[11] Id. 

[12] Id.

[13] Id. 

[14] Id. 

[15] Id. 

[16] Id. 

[17] BART unions ratify labor deals that ended four-day rail strike, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bart-unions-ratify-labor-deals-20131102,0,7298606.story#axzz2jbyi3EE0

[18] Id.  

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