BART labor contracts approved by 2 largest unions
BART labor contracts allow for system reinvestment, efficiencies, and employee benefit cost sharing
BART’s four year labor contract agreements, approved by its two largest unions, lay the groundwork for continued reliable service for years to come. The contracts address the growing cost of employee benefits, allow the use of modern technology to streamline operations while eliminate waste, and ensure financial sustainability to allow BART to reinvest in its 41 year old system.
“The Bay Area and our riders will benefit from these contracts because BART will be able to move forward with the replacement of our aging fleet of train cars and the needed upgrades to meet demand,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican. “BART was able to gain reforms it has sought for years which will have a positive impact on our ability to manage the system and will improve service for our customers.”
BART will make some reductions in the budget because of the efficiencies included in the package by factoring in savings from the changes to work rules gained in the contract. The FY14 budget will be reexamined and adjusted.
The BART Board of Directors will soon vote on the contracts at a future board meeting.
A fair and sustainable economic package
The package represents big progress in getting employees to share in the cost of paying for BART’s competitive benefit package. BART employees will begin to pay into their pension, growing from 1% in the first year to 4% in the last year. Since employees previously paid nothing towards their pension, this change represents a fundamental shift in employee cost sharing at BART moving forward. Employees will pay an additional $37 to the flat rate they currently pay towards medical insurance. BART employees will now pay $132 a month for health care the first year and the contribution grows to $144 per month the last year.
BART increased the number of years it takes for an employee to be fully vested for retiree medical benefits from 5 years to 15. This change will result in cost savings for years to come and is an important reform to help contain costs. BART increased the amount paid per month to employees who opt out of medical coverage from $100 to $350 to provide a bigger incentive to opt out for those who may have medical benefits offered through a spouse or partner.
BART employees will receive a 15.38% pay increase (2% net pay per year) over the course of four years. This size wage increase is in line with what other public sector employees have been given in recent contracts and consistent with a cost of living adjustment for employees to keep up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area.
“While employees gained a reasonable wage increase in the labor agreements, BART gained priceless changes to out dated work rules which will help pay for the wage increases while allowing BART to modernize and operate more efficiently,” said Board President Tom Radulovich.
Essential cost-saving work rule changes
BART will now have better control over scheduling, attendance, preventing overtime abuse, and allowing changes to equipment and technology to upgrade and improve how we run and maintain the system.
Perhaps the most significant change agreed to by unions, was changes to the “Beneficial Past Practice” language in the contracts which has prevented BART from upgrading and leveraging technology and new equipment use. Management will no longer need union approval to make changes in these areas, something which has tied managements’ hands since 1972. Outdated rules will no longer prevent BART from transmitting information electronically instead of by fax machine or handwritten notes, entering field data via handheld devices, upgrade equipment, and introduce new or even what would be considered old technology by industry standards to maintain our assets. This change will also help BART make the most of technology when our new “Fleet of the Future” modern train cars are put into service.
Management gained the right to schedule project jobs as a 5x8 shift (work eight hours, five days a week) or a 4X10 shift (work ten hours, four days a week). BART will be able to better manage and meet deadlines for project work, such as rail car floor replacement, with this flexibility.
Employees will no longer be allowed to take unpaid leave during their work week and then make overtime by working their days off. By closing this loophole, BART will save on overtime costs by cracking down on the biggest abusers and by encouraging workers to work during their regularly scheduled work week.
Unions also agreed to reforms to help encourage good attendance.
Safety components and remaining issues
BART agreed to add Dutch doors, height markers, and shatter proof protective film on glass in all station agent booths system wide. BART will install bullet proof glass in one booth at the Coliseum Station and will meet and confer with unions to determine any future investments.
BART managers will work more closely and continuously with workers through three sub-committees to discuss tunnel lighting, vegetation control along BART tracks, and underground restrooms which are currently closed for security and safety reason.
No unresolved issues will go to arbitration as part of the contract agreements.
BART will continue its “State of Good Repair” project efforts to ensure BART can meet future demand while maintaining reliable and safe passenger service. This reinvestment will take a shared responsibility from all Bay Area stakeholders. The long term economic sustainability of BART depends on everyone paying their fair share, including our own employees.
Reaching agreements on responsible and affordable contracts which allow for employee benefit cost sharing was the first step. Beginning January 1, 2014, riders will pay higher fares (5.2% increase/adds 19 cents to the average fare) which the Board approved in February and dedicated to BART’s top three capital projects: new train cars, a new train control system to allow us to run trains closer together, and a new state of the art maintenance facility to serve the new fleet. BART will also need to ask the voters in the future for an investment to address our State of Good Repair needs. BART will continue to aggressively seek federal and state grants and funds to help pay for the billions of dollars needed. This “all of the above” approach will be the only way to ensure BART will continue to be the transportation back bone and economic engine the Bay Area depends on.
Download the chart outlining economic components of the contract
Download the chart outlining improved work rules, past practices and safety