Some of you may have seen www.bartlabor.com already and are aware of the figures. I've had a chance to read through it tonight and found a few facts disturbing but not surprising.
We've all heard by now that the average salary and benefits for union members is $114,466 for FY 09 and $116,237 in FY 10; more than double the average salary of a passenger. But have you seen the nearly ridiculous labor rules?
Now, it is my personal opinion that unions contributed to the downfall of the American auto industry, at least that is what I've come to believe after reading numerous news articles and case studies. Hence, I have to admit that I've never been a fan of unions but understand and respect (not necessarily agree with) what they seek to accomplish.
Take a look at these rules below (excerpts taken from http://bartlabor.com/?cat=11) They are similar to other union labor rules...inflexible but serve to (over)protect members. My goodness-- no wonder the train, stations, lots are in such poor shape. No wonder an escalator does not get fixed for days! No wonder certain critical elevators don't operate regularly!! Meanwhile, we actually thought our email complaints will make a difference in the quality of customer service?? What was I thinking? Sure, this website is managed by BART and not the unions but these facts and figures are validated. If someone from the unions would like to dispute these facts or publicize figures around BART management, please feel free to do so! We want and NEED to hear both sides.
Here are some rules:
Changing a Seat at BART – Not So Simple
Last year, BART installed new seats in 205 train cars as part of a major upgrade of the interior amenities of our system. While we hope the changes are a comfort to our riders, they may be surprised to know that it takes two employees at BART to change out a seat cushion and backing under current contract rules.
The contract allows a utility worker to unfasten the snaps that hold a seat cushion in place. But the two screws fastening a seat back can only be touched by a journeyman mechanic. BART changed some 26,000 seat cushions last year. As a result, we think it would be more efficient if one employee was authorized to service the entire portion of a seat. It would result in freeing up mechanics to perform more important, skilled work.
Paperless Pay Stubs Now Back To Paper:
In an effort to save money and reduce the amount of paper BART uses, we moved to an electronic pay stub format for employees two years ago. Most of our employees use direct deposit and under a new system they could access their pay stub information via secure computer login. In recent months, the Amalgamated Transit Union filed a grievance over the paperless system and an arbitrator has upheld the protest – meaning BART will now have to go back to paper pay stubs.
Station Maintenance – Walk the Line
Perhaps nowhere are work rules more arbitrary than when it comes to the “drip line” rule regarding maintenance at BART stations. Under this rule, one classification of worker – a patio worker — is allowed to clean the outdoor areas of a station up to the station’s drip line, essentially a rain gutter. Another type of BART employee – a System Service worker – has authority to clean only the interior spaces of a station.
This two-tier maintenance system leads to the irregular or partial cleaning of stations and is exacerbated by the fact that patio workers work only Monday through Friday while System Service workers are assigned to shifts seven days a week.
Beneficial Past Practices No Longer Benefiting BART:
A major reason that BART’s contract is stuck firmly in the past is the concept of “beneficial past practices” – a principle that has helped strengthen workers’ rights and protections but at BART has been manipulated to preserve outdated work rules.
Over the years, a series of arbitration rulings has allowed the unions to keep wasteful contract provisions. If BART operated in a certain way in the 1970s, the concept of beneficial past practices dictates that we must continue to do so today. This is no way for any business to survive and endure in today’s challenging economy.
Beneficial past practices impede our efficiency as a transit agency in a variety of ways. For example, BART is required to allow a certain number of employees to work on holidays at the rate of double time and a half. The number of holiday shifts is not tied to any particular need for staffing on any individual holiday. Instead, it is pegged to an average of workers operating on holiday shifts from the late 1980s.
Similarly, BART is required to staff certain facilities and certain operations units at levels dating from decades ago whether they are needed or not in 2009.
Building a Better Contract:
BART believes that many of the contract rules benefit workers and make our agency a safe and convenient transit option for riders. But clearly there are work rules now decades old that no longer make sense and serve only to limit efficiency and flexibility when they are needed now more than ever in our system.