Unions Call for BART Board To Be Charged With Crime Over Death of Two Workers
Update: SEIU Local 1021 informed us that the United Public-Workers for Action does not speak for this union.
Just moments ago, local union reps gathered a BART board meeting where they're asking for criminal charges against the BART board for the deaths of two of Christopher Sheppard and Larry Daniels, the two BART workers who were killed on the tracks in Walnut Creek during the transit strike.
As he waited for the meeting to start, Steve Zeltzer, who was speaking on behalf of the United Public-Workers for Action, told us that the BART board should be held responsible for "murder and negligence."
"They should be in jail for allowing this to happen," he said. "they were warned by BART workers about this -- not to run the trains with untrained personnel and they ignored it."
On Saturday just after 2 p.m., Daniels and Sheppard -- both experienced track workers and union members -- were investigating a dip in the tracks about a mile from the Walnut Creek station when a moving train struck them. They both died at the scene.
It was the second day of the BART strike, and while the trains were not in service for commuters, the employee was dispatched to haul the graffiti-riddled train to a maintenance yard. While BART has said the operator, who was running the train on automode, was experienced, unions maintain otherwise. Zeltzer says BART was actually training the employee how to operate the trains in the event of an extended strike -- something BART officials has said they would do. BART unions had warned management not to put inexperienced employees in the trains -- and this is exactly why.
"They were training uncertified workers who did not follow procedures [after the accident]," Zeltzer said. "They didn't shut down the electric lines and there were no horn blasts."
A BART spokeswoman told KGO that the NTSB is independently investigating the crash and this is not a time for fighting.
Meanwhile, BART announced it's indefinitely suspending the "simple approval" policy, which makes workers responsible for their own safety. Lawrence Hanley, with the Amalgamated transit Union told the San Jose Mercury News that "you don't train in a situation where you can kill people. It's like walking into a kindergarten class and handing out loaded pistols."