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BART: Incompetence or contempt?

As I write this, Local 1555 members working for San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) are having a very unusual problem. After months of contentious negotiations, the local reached a deal, which both parties signed and the members ratified.  But a problem arose when the contract went to BART’s Board for approval.

The agency contends that a provision that gives their workers six weeks family medical leave in addition to their vacation time, which BART says it rejected, was “inadvertently” left in the signed agreement. The previous contract said that they must use all of their vacation before taking family leave.

Most commentators don’t believe that BART, with a $400,000 negotiator, and high-powered lawyers actually made that error.  Nevertheless, the board rejected the contract with the new provision.  And that’s where things stand, as I write today.


What if the local made the same claim?

Imagine what would happen if Local 1555 said there was something in the contract that they thought had been taken out. Would BART say, “Certainly – no problem – we’ll just delete that part.”?  I don’t think so.

BART’s actions lead us to only one of two conclusions.  Either BART management is incredibly incompetent, or they will do anything they think could bust the union – no matter how underhanded. If it’s the later – and I’m sure it is – it’s clear that they have nothing but contempt for their own employees.  That’s a sad thing to say – particularly during the holidays.

While this tactic is new, the attitude is not.  They simply have no respect for workers, and stoop to worn-out anti labor relations games to test our members’ willingness to stand together.   

Sure, within our locals there are disagreements, but there is a time, place, and procedure to effectively resolve differences.  But, there should be no misunderstanding or differences among us when confronted by the type of behavior exhibited by BART management. Together we can, and together we will prevail if we, the members, stand strong together, set our differences aside, and support each other and our local leadership.  

Whose problem is it?  It’s a problem for all of us – we can’t sit around “waiting on the world to change”.  Get involved!


Imagine the possible, seize the opportunity.

Throughout this issue you’ll read how we plan to do that in the coming year.   We will come together in solidarity, like never before, and build a better life for ourselves, and generations of workers yet to come.  

“The clock of life is wound but once for us, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at a late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”

Christmas and the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Remember the awe struck face of a child, the gleam of wonder and magic the eyes behold? Reach out help someone in need.  I wish each of you happy holidays and a Meaningful Christmas.