BART negotiations continue; ‘pay parity’ one issue

By Colleen Valles The Associated Press
Wednesday October 24, 2001

OAKLAND — Bay Area Rapid Transit management and the transit system’s smallest union spent Tuesday negotiating ahead of a midnight strike deadline. 

The union wants all employees who do the same job to be paid the same wage, regardless of experience or tenure. BART officials said that would bump salaries up to unmanageable levels. 

Bay Area commuters were guaranteed a ride to work Tuesday after the union extended its strike deadline from midnight Monday. 

Local elected officials have gotten involved in the dispute between BART and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993, which represents which represents 238 train controllers and supervisors. A strike could strand 300,000 commuters and further clog the Bay Area’s already congested roads. 

“The union graciously granted the 24-hour extension to allow everyone to be able to count on the trains running (Tuesday) without any disruption,” Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, said Monday night. “I think the parties are getting close, and we’re grateful not to have a strike at this time.” 

BART officials were upset the two sides did not settle Monday and that the union waited until late at night to extend the strike deadline. Union representatives did not return calls Tuesday. 

Management at the commuter train network says its offer of a 22 percent pay raise and benefits package is the best it can do. The union says it’s satisfied with the compensation but worries jobs will be outsourced to nonunion contractors and consultants. 

The offer is reportedly similar to the contract that BART unions representing maintenance and train operators accepted September 4.  

Those contracts called for a 22 percent wage increase over the next four years, increased pension plan contributions and continued health care coverage at no added cost to employees. 

A Local 3993 supervisor earns an about $77,500 a year, according to BART officials. A 22 percent raise would increase that salary to $94,550. 

Leaders of the largest two unions have said they will honor AFSCME’s picket line, but BART officials insist they will find a way to keep trains running. 

The supervisors’ union rejected BART’s “best and final” offer Oct. 15. BART officials asked the union to return to the bargaining table and local elected leaders have been trying to get both sides to settle.