BART Strike: Negotiations Pause While BART Negotiator Goes on Vacation

pic-hock.jpg
Now we know what he did with that extra $300,000
BART riders received multiple reprieves last week during the agency's first labor strike in 16 years: 1. the four-and-a-half day strike came on a short week punctuated by a holiday. And 2. the transit agency's labor unions agreed to go back to work for 30 days on July 5 in order to flesh out a labor contract.

That means a month of negotiations would have to be enough time to avoid another strike. But a month became three weeks, as no negotiation meetings were scheduled until Friday (though the state-appointed mediators have been meeting with both BART labor and management).

And now three weeks are two. No meetings at all will happen from July 22 to July 29, when BART's $399,000 chief negotiator -- transit attorney Tom Hock, who labor leaders view as a union buster -- goes on vacation.

We've heard of golfing or clearing brush during a crisis, but this is, well, ridiculous.

BART's labor contracts with its five unions expired on June 30. The two largest unions, SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which together represent about 2,300 train operators, station agents, cleaners, and mechanics, went on strike rather than agree to paying more into their healthcare and pensions.

BART workers have not had a raise since 2008, but do enjoy health insurance and retirement benefits that private sector workers would love to have. Negotiations on a new contract began April 1, and to spearhead their dealings with labor, the BART Board of Directors awarded a $399,000 contract to Hock.

Hock runs an Ohio-based firm called Veolia Transportation that has a history of coming into transit systems with labor disputes -- and more or less breaking the unions, as the East Bay Express reported this week.

Hock has been accused of many things by labor. There's surface bargaining, wherein one side essentially stonewalls the other, refusing to change an offer. There's bad faith negotiations, which led the BART unions to file a lawsuit a week before they went on strike.

But now there's this.

Labor leaders are incredulous; they've never heard of anything like a negotiator leaving to go on vacation during such tense labor negotiations that could bring the Bay Area commute to a screeching halt -- literally. Yet there it is, on the negotiation schedule: No meetings for an entire week, when Hock will be out of town.

No word on how long Hock plans to be out on vacation; we checked in with BART spokesman Rick Rice. We'll update when we hear back. What we do know is that Hock will receive the $399,000 for his services.

In the meantime, labor is making as much hay of this as they can.

"This makes it clear for all to see that BART Board President Tom Radulovich, BART General Manager Grace Crunican and their hatchet man, Thomas Hock, are simply not engaging in good faith negotiations," John Arantes, president of the BART Chapter of SEIU 1021 said in a statement issued this morning. "Where can Hock be going on vacation that is more important than making sure the interests of the taxpayers paying his $399,000 a year salary?"

Wherever it is, we hope it's far away from trains, for his sake.




My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
ianc435
ianc435

Yup lay em all off then replace workers. That's a novel idea. Im sure they'll roll back fares to ride the service. That's how things go. As companies save money the savings are passed onto you. Look at the oil companies. They share there profits with everyone. I also like the relaxed feeling if these negotiations. So relaxed a 400000$ guest speaker can go on vacation.

If it does happen with replacement workers this cycle will repeat.

mattharris4
mattharris4

BART authorities need to bust this union and hire replacement workers ASAP!  $80K annually plus bennies is ridiculous for high school drop-out level work.  If they act now they could have replacements ready for the next strike coming up in August and there would be minimal impact on commuters.  As it stands now the union will go back out on strike and BART management will have to rush-hire hundreds of employees in order to get the trains back in service.  Even with a rush-hire job it is likely that the subway will not operate for a week or two - unless they act now and start hiring and training replacement employees.  Rub it in the union's face that if they don't play ball they will get their members fired and they may wise up and negotiate reasonably, especially if it is shown that BART will replace them rather than cow-tow to their unreasonable demands.  There are companies that specialize in rush-hiring for struck employers complete with security guards to keep strikers from hurting the new employees.  If they hire one of these companies now they would have replacements ready for work when/if the union strikes.  Usually there is a clause in these replacement employees contracts that state if the union comes to an agreement within a set period of time with management their jobs end.  If need be they can get employees from all across the country and bus/fly them in, even arranging for hotel rooms until they can find housing and still be cheaper than $80K annually plus bennies.


I bet there are hundreds of out-of-work people that would take these jobs for $40K per year plus 80/20 insurance and a 401(K) with company match to 1% of salary (strike breaker employees don't usually get bennies until they are actually hired into the company -- in this case BART).

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

WTF! In less then a month I'm sure they will go back on strike. These fucked up people don't care about people that take bart to and from work! EVERYONE that works for Bart should be fired! Hire people that r looking for work! I'm sure they will be happy what these people r getting paid now!!

Joe Flores
Joe Flores

That's ok, it's the greedy unions are to blame. It drove this poor man to a much needed vacation.

wiseoldsnail
wiseoldsnail

this is a disgusting display of complete disregard and disrespect for riders and workers.  sadly, it's not a bit surprising.

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

@Elsa Fulton Who knows?  I mean it's only listed three times in the article.

boaster
boaster

@mattharris4 Maybe they'd get station agents and janitors, but I don't think they'd find people with the correct certifications to work on those specific trains. It might also be hard to find people who know how the specific software that runs BART trains work. Plus I'm pretty sure the people who work on the sensitive parts of the system have to have Security Clearances and friends I know who have clearances generally make really good money so why would they quit those gigs for BART?

dsmith6966
dsmith6966

You didn't read the article did you?

mattharris4
mattharris4

Yes, I read the article.  As well as vacationing at an inopportune time Tom Hock is also accused of breaking unions in the article, if he is smart he will have the union broken by the time his vacation is scheduled to start.  Whether he is vacationing later in the month or not he needs to get rolling on those replacement workers now if he expects BART to roll without interruption after the 30 day reprieve is over.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...