BART Workers File Lawsuit Against Transit Agency Over Violence and Crime, Strike Looms

Categories: BART

Thumbnail image for bart-train.jpg
Lawyers take the train, too
BART labor negotiations are breaking down faster than a train at rush hour.

In the latest turn on the BART labor drama, two of the largest transit unions filed a lawsuit this morning, claiming that BART leaders are not bargaining in good faith, specifically when it comes to worker safety.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and SEIU Local 1021 fired off a press release after filing the lawsuit in Alameda County court this morning, just a week before their contract is set to expire on June 30. Tomorrow, the unions are slated to vote on whether to authorize a strike, which would be really , really bad for commuters.

However, the unions state that there have been more than 2,400 serious crimes committed on the transit system over the last three years -- in five stations alone. There were more than 1,000 physical attacks on riders in the same time period, and more than 100 physical attacks on BART employees. These crimes include rape, homicide, and (naked) assaults, to name a few.

Last week, BART workers ditched negotiations and instead wrote BART leaders a letter, saying they'd come back to the bargaining table once safety was made a top priority. Specifically, they're asking for things like bullet-proof glass at BART stations. The next day, talks resumed, but obviously, things didn't go well.

The unions cite numerous examples of BART's "unfair labor practices," and said that negotiators have "categorically refused to bargain over safety matters that could not be more important to the workers, and the riders of this otherwise great transit system."

"It's difficult to negotiate improvements with politicians who won't even admit the most obvious problems," says Antonette Bryant, president of ATU 1555. "First they tried to create a phony budget crisis to justify increased fares for riders and wage cuts for workers, and now they're ignoring a mounting wave of violence against workers and riders. All we want is a fair wage and a safe workplace -- that's not too much to ask."

Not long after the suit was filed, Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for BART, fired off her own statement on behalf of the transit agency:

We haven't seen the lawsuit, but regardless, BART is at the table bargaining in good faith for a sustainable and fair contract.

We have drawn no line in the sand and have already made concessions and compromises. We suggest our unions stop diverting attention from the real issues of increasing pension and medical costs and join us at the table for a thoughtful conversation about how best to invest in our employees and our system. These ploys are a smoke screen for the fact union leaders are refusing to bring our contracts in line with what is normal for the Bay Area and the transit industry. Employees need to begin paying a share of their pension plan and more than what they currently pay for health care- only $92 a month.

Last Monday, in an effort to de-politicize the safety issue, BART's Chief of Police and heads of Operations, Maintenance, and Transportation made a comprehensive three hour Safety presentation to the union leadership of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.

Rather than continue that constructive dialog the next day, the union leaders instead cancelled the negotiations.

We are committed to serious negotiation that will result in a fair and responsible contract.

In sort-of related news, there are 10-minute delays on BART in the SFO, Millbrae and Daly City due to "police activity." We'll update you when we know more.

Update 1:25 p.m.:
A BART spokesperson informed us that the delays were caused by a person running back-and-forth between the track and the platform. The incident didn't last long, but it probably irritated commuters.
 





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8 comments
塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

They need COPS at EVERY stop! They should NOT sit and look at the cameras they should be on there feet at each BART stop! Keep everyone safe. They should also ride the trains! I NEVER seen any so called COPS on Bart!

mrdeepthink
mrdeepthink

BART needs to manage and not mismanage itself or otherwise find people who are capable of the job. Who can trust a company that lies to your face to play victim? BART management finds millions of dollars every time they do some internal audit which is usually strategically before or soon after contract negotiations and they vow to use that money to appease the riders with promises they fail in keeping. The system is still filthy, the fares still are expensive in comparison to other transit agencies, people are victimized by crime, and the employees are disgruntled. I see all these adds on the trains that claim the compensation for BART PD is twice the amount of what is shown on the company website. The same goes for the wages earned by their frontline employees as they claim when they talk about wage earnings to gain public support. As far as I have experienced, overtime money is earned when I am asked or offered to work during my off hours that most people are compensated for or gripe about if they are not. Some people have a choice of refusing overtime while others, in this instance, BART PD, does not. BART also knowingly hired a lead negotiator who has a record of rights violation lawsuits against him in conjunction with other transit agencies. It seems that BART management has little intention of doing right by anybody. Not even their own workers who the public see everyday. If no one else stands up for you then you sometimes have to stand up for yourself and the strike option is what the workers have at their disposal. I'm not going to like the traffic on the Bay Area freeways when it happens but I understand these workers have something to stand up for especially when they would even stand up for the safety of the riders. Many of whom have treated them poorly, treated other passengers poorly, and, like in the video from 16th St. station, seem more interested in watching someone else attacked and going home to talk about it rather than coming together like a community and standing up for their fellow man/woman/child. BART should not get away with their vilifying campaign against its frontline workers, no employer should. We all want fairness, and for those of us who have to conduct business by means of the highways, we all want as little traffic as possible. BART be fair and I'm sure the unions will listen.

Stan James
Stan James

yeah...rarely, will criminals do anything when its crowded. All the trouble I have seen as far as pan-handlers has been on the Richmond-Freemont line in the mid afternoon.

Carmichael Caudron
Carmichael Caudron

I've ridden the Bart for 3 years. I do hear of delays coz of cops arresting someone but never seen it myself. Is it simply just being in the Bart late at night when it's not crowded that makes the danger come out of its shell?i always ride it when it's crowded. Which stations should I avoid?

Barbara Mcwilliams
Barbara Mcwilliams

I don't like riding BART alone because it makes me feel fearful. Truthfully I've only seen one BART employee that wasn't in a booth or behind a closed door.

middleofroad
middleofroad

Who ever feels safe when riding BART?   I've traveled all over the world very often alone and seldom feel fearful except when I'm on BART I feel like a sitting duck.    Is there even one female BART Manager that rides BART alone?

Bubu
Bubu

The public needs to know BART is a mess ...both for the workers(Unions), Managers(Incompetent assholes) and the Board(Union supported public servants). At best, BART is dysfunctional. The GM is hired by the Board to keep everything in line...but she has succumb to the BART culture. Its going to take the public to do a occupy movement to get BART back! They are spending your taxes and fare money. The first step starts with the Board that is not bought out by Union campaign donations.(State oversite committee might be a better option). Don't politicize your transportation.

Stan James
Stan James

They should sue their manager if they are putting them in risky situations. As a matter of fact one of BARTs current managers became a manager because they threaten to sue because they were put into a dangerous situation! Go Figure?!

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