BART Workers Return to Bargaining Table with a Lower-Cost Counter Proposal

New Offer Saves District More Than $10 million From Prior Proposal
Oakland — Negotiators for two BART unions representing the majority of BART employees returned to the bargaining table today with a counter proposal that is more than $10 million less expensive than their previous proposal.

Negotiators for SEIU 1021 and ATU Local 1555 today delivered a comprehensive wage and benefits counter-offer to transit agency negotiators that proposes a 4.5 percent annual wage increase, or 13.5 percent over the 3-year agreement.  BART unions had initially proposed annual 7 percent increases, or 21.5 percent over three years, in part to defray massive increases in out-of-pocket cost health care and pension contributions proposed by BART management.
"We want to demonstrate that we're serious about reaching an agreement before the expiration of the 60-day cooling-off period," said SEIU 1021’s chief negotiator Josie Mooney. "Frankly we had wanted to provide our counter offer much earlier, but the district has declined to bargain with us on pay and benefits for the past 30 days.”
The components of the BART workers' counter proposal are:
— Annual pay increases of 4.5 percent over a three-year contract
— BART workers will pick up the cost of paying their own pensions in three increasing installments of 1.4 percent of salary in the first year, 2.8 percent in the second year and 4.9 percent in the third year. BART management's proposal called for just a 4 percent contribution. In exchange for each 1 dollar of increased pension contribution, employees would receive a 72 cent swap payment — a plan that is cost-neutral to the transit agency, while restoring the practice of workers contributing to their pensions. The pension "swap" is common to many public agencies.  BART workers were relieved of making contributions to their pensions in lieu of raises as part of a bargained agreement with district management in 1980.
— BART workers will pay more for their health care coverage, increasing the average worker's premium payment for family medical coverage by 15 percent.  A major sticking point in negotiations is that BART management wants to quadruple the out-of-pocket cost of family health care coverage for employees in the Blue Shield plan.  This could cost BART workers with family coverage an additional $13,000 over the district's proposed 4-year contract. Nearly 1 in 4 BART employees has family coverage.  Many live in areas not served by other non-Kaiser plans.

Download a chart comparing the proposals here.

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