leaders realize that BART is facing a fiscal crisis and they need to help find a solution to it?" asked BART board President Tom Blalock. "We have to improve efficiency and reduce all costs, including the cost of our labor contracts, while at the same time keeping BART affordable for our riders."
July 1 is the first day a strike could occur, although both sides said they don't foresee one as talks continue. Work stoppages have shut down BART four times in 36 years.
Union leaders say BART is trying to exploit the recession and bully employees to accept long term take aways without knowing how long the economy will stay sluggish.
"The economy is a temporary condition and they want permanent cutbacks," said Lisa Isler, president of Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union. "We feel they're taking advantage of us."
get the system back on track."
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BART brought in a $270 per hour chief negotiator after a key manager overseeing negotiations died of natural causes.
BART fares go up 6.1 percent July 1, just hours after the expiration of four year labor agreements for unions representing 2,824 of the district's 3,225 employees.
"The district says everyone has to share the pain, but we don't see how they are sharing," said Jesse Hunt, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents train operators and station agents.
A survey BART commissioned in the spring found that compensation for station agents and train operators is the highest in the industry in this nation when two key items base pay and the employee contribution toward pensions are examined. The survey factored in regional differences in living costs.
BART board members and managers say the transit system's combination of high pay and benefits and wasteful, inflexible work rules is not financially sustainable.
Union leaders say they are willing to consider concessions, but they say the transit system has been slow and vague about proposing specific changes.
Workers contribute $81.90 a month toward medical insurance.
With the recession bleeding BART of sales tax revenue and fare paying riders, BART's board and managers says it needs $100 million in concessions over four years from employee unions. Without the savings, the board says it would be forced to impose more unpopular fare increases or service cuts.
BART strike threat looms in Bay Area
Union officials said they could not verify or rebut the comparison, but they said BART has a penchant for exaggerating pay and benefit numbers.
BART workers contend the district board and management haven't sacrificed and continue to award bonuses to executives, hire high priced consultants and approve expensive capital projects such as a $522 million light rail extension to the Oakland International Airport.
BART managers said the unions have not spelled out what concessions in work rules or benefits their members would be willing to accept.
"The rules were put in years ago, and we lived with them," Blalock said. "Now we need to Nike Air Max Thea Leather Desert Camo
workers get average total annual pay of $71,633, including overtime, and BART picks up an average of $48,000 a year for each worker's benefits, the transit system said.
Antiquated work rules hurt BART finances by Air Max 2015 Red Release Date ramping up overtime, BART officials said.
BART train operator Laszlo Szamosi checks the Walnut Creek, Calif., platform before continuing his trip west on the San Francisco Bay Point line on Tuesday, June 23, 2009. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)As the Bay Area braces for a possible BART strike, transit union and management negotiators struggle to reach an accord on issues that have dogged the transit system for years: benefit costs and work rules.
The debate is amplified by public relations consultants and Web sites commissioned by both sides.
Overall, BART employees including managers and hourly Nike Air Max Tavas Black Women
A top scale station agent and top scale train operator each make $30.01 per hour, $62,860 a year, in base pay. The transit system also pays 100 percent of the so called employee contribution toward pensions an amount equivalent to 7 percent of a salary though many other California public agencies require workers to pick up some or all of that contribution toward their state pensions.
Union officials also contend BART has singled out workers for sacrifice, while the district gave bonuses to managers in January and the transit board agreed to borrow as much as $150 million from the federal government to build a $522 million light rail extension to Oakland International Airport.
Blalock said he is upset the unions on Wednesday asked for a 3 percent pay raise over the next two years, rather than a wage freeze.
They point to rules requiring that two workers remove seat covers and backing for cleaning. A utility worker unsnaps the cushion. A journeyman mechanic is called in to remove two screws for the seat backing.
Among cleaning crews, a worker in one job classification cleans inside stations and another worker in another classification cleans outside the roof line of stations.
BART officials acknowledged they yanked salary figures off a district Web site this month after their accuracy was questioned. "You can look at numbers in different ways," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "We want them to be clear."
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