District Council 57

BART Unions Tentatively Agree to Extend Labor Contract

Photo courtesy of BART

BART and its three unions—AFSCME 3993, ATU 1555 and SEIU 1021—announced today that they have all signed a tentative agreement that will extend their current labor contracts for four years through 2021—a huge development at a time when the BART system is aging, ridership continues to hit record numbers and workers need to focus on making the system run as smoothly as it can.

This agreement, which is subject to a vote of approval by union members and the BART Board of Directors, will ensure that BART riders can have consistent service and that BART workers get a fair contract.

“This is a pivotal moment in our history,” AFSCME Local 3993 President Sal Cruz said at today's press conference announcing the tentative agreement. “The amount of collaboration it took to make this happen was tremendous. This is a turning point for BART and a new benchmark for labor relations moving forward.”

BART unions and management have been meeting together for the last two years discussing how to improve the relationships between BART’s unions, board and management so that everyone can focus their energy where it’s needed the most: running the system and keeping it safe and reliable for riders and workers.

Over the past months, as Local 3993 and BART’s other unions began to look at how to approach the upcoming 2017 negotiations, many members expressed concern that BART, the board and unions not repeat the dynamics of the 2013 negotiations. In light of those discussions—and in the interest of workers, the district and the public—a collective decision was made to extend the labor contracts until 2021.

The terms of the tentative agreement include salary increases of 2.5%, 2.5%, 2.75% and 2.75% between 2017 and 2021. Pensions will be discussed at a later date, after pending litigation over PEPRA between California and the U.S. Department of Labor is resolved. Bonuses based on ridership growth, health care costs and pension cost increases will continue. Other terms and conditions of the current contract remain in place.

AFSCME, ATU and SEIU have worked side-by-side throughout discussions with board members and management about issues ranging from safety to training to improving communications. Relationships between the three unions also grew stronger during this process, and AFSCME could not have resolved several outstanding grievances with BART management without the support of union brothers and sisters at ATU and SEIU.

“The BART of today is not the same system that people experienced during the 2013 negotiations,” said Patricia Schuchardt, AFSCME Local 3993 Vice President. During that time, the hostility between BART management and its workers reached a tipping point. Critics from all over the Bay Area have demanded that BART figure out a better solution. In response, the BART board commissioned a report that analyzed the 2013 labor negotiations. The report recommended that all parties begin to rebuild a working relationship by doing things differently, such as having frequent dialogue and resolving contract differences collectively.

BART’s new direction also acknowledges the hard work that BART employees perform on a daily basis to provide the public with safe and reliable service despite the fact that the BART system is aging and ridership continues to hit record numbers.

“This agreement demonstrates that the unions and management are committed to working with one another to make decisions, and that this can be done without giving up our workers’ rights,” Cruz said. “It feels like the right thing to do.”

BART's three unions and the board expect to finalize their ratification votes within the next 30 days.

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