| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Nov 16 Managers of the San
Francisco-area commuter rail system said on Friday they wanted
to reopen talks on part of a deal that ended a crippling October
strike, drawing an angry response from unions.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency's board said it
needed to take out one costly provision in the agreement that
had been included in error.
Union chiefs accused the board of going back on its word,
but stopped short of threatening to repeat the walkout, which
paralyzed the nation's fifth largest commuter rail system and
forced commuters onto already jammed roads.
The board said in a statement the agency had never intended
to include a provision on family medical leave which would be
too expensive to administer over the four-year deal.
"We are not comfortable with the potential liability that
could result from the adoption of this contract provision," the
board statement said.
The board said it had directed its general manager "to go
back to the bargaining table and continue a discussion with
union officials in an attempt to resolve the matter".
BART officials wrangled with two unions representing more
than 2,000 employees for months over wages, benefits and
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021
and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1555 voted to
approve the agreement.
SEIU Local 1021 Executive Director Pete Castelli said there
had been no confusion over the wording of the deal.
"After telling the thousands of riders and their workers
that we had a fair agreement, BART management has pulled the rug
from underneath the unions and the Bay Area today by going back
on their word and urging the BART board of directors to turn
this agreement down," Castelli said in a statement.
"We negotiated in good faith for six months. BART management
is now attempting to go back on agreements it made in July and
August and that were part of the final deal. This is
unconscionable," said ATU 1555 President Antonette Bryant.
The commuter rail system serves more than 400,000 riders a
day in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and suburbs.
(Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by David Bailey and Andrew