Unions angry that BART management publishes its side
It looks like unionized workers for BART — Bay Area Rapid Transit — are about to call another strike as negotiations this weekend have yet to yield a settlement. Published reports show that union officials are angry that BART management has dared to tell its side of the story. Yet BART’s side is compelling. As BART officials explained in a statement, “There is no question BART employees should get a raise, but contracts that continue to allow employees to pay nothing towards their pension and a flat rate for health care are no longer sustainable. Especially as we face billions of dollars in unfunded needs to keep our system reliable and safe. BART spent $17 million last year to pick up the employee share of pensions. If employees begin to pay even part of their share we can use the savings to begin to make the critical investments needed. Our next contract needs to begin to address the escalating costs of our benefit packages. BART’s medical costs have grown 251% in 12 years and our pension costs have grown 126% in 10 years. We need to begin to normalize our benefits to better reflect what other public employers offer.” BART is just the latest example of that old saw that public agencies are benefit providers that offer a few public services on the side.