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BART, Unions Return to Bargaining Table Over Family Leave Issue

BART and union officials will meet Thursday and Friday to try to resolve a dispute over a contract provision that calls for employees to receive up to six weeks of paid family medical leave annually.

By Bay City News Service

BART and its two biggest labor unions will meet on Thursday to try to resolve a dispute over a contract provision that calls for employees to receive up to six weeks of paid family medical leave annually.

The talks will be the first negotiations since Oct. 21, when BART reached a tentative agreement with the unions that ended a four-day strike.

Members of Service Employees Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, approved the agreement on Nov. 1.

But shortly after that BART management said they hadn't intended to include the paid family medical leave provision in the agreement.

Management said the provision and had been mistakenly inserted by a temporary employee and that they had only discovered it while conducting a final review before submitting the agreement to BART directors.

On Nov. 21 BART directors approved the contract without the paid family medical leave provision and told union leaders to take the agreement back to their members for another vote without that provision.

Leaders of SEIU Local 1021 and ATU refused management's request and instead filed a lawsuit last week alleging that the transit agency's directors had acted unlawfully and must honor the terms of the tentative agreement.

However, members of a smaller union, American Federation of State, County and Local Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 210 middle managers, voted last week to approve the contract without the paid family medical leave provision, according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

AFSCME Local 3993 officials couldn't be reached for comment today (Wednesday).

SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Cecille Isidro said Wednesday that the negotiating session will be "an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion to try to reach a fair and equitable resolution for a contract."

Trost said talks have been scheduled for both Thursday and Friday.

Isidro said a federal mediator will help the parties try to reach an agreement.

The tentative agreement on Oct. 21 ended a four-day strike by BART employees.

Employees also went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July.

Union leaders say they don't plan to call for a strike at this time but they haven't ruled out that option if the paid family medical leave issue remains unresolved.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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