By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service
BART's two largest unions filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior
Court today alleging that the transit agency's directors acted unlawfully when
they approved a contract agreement the two sides reached in October, minus a
paid family medical leave provision.
Speaking at a news conference outside the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, where the suit was filed, Kerianne Steele, an attorney for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said BART directors are "bound" by the tentative agreement the two sides reached on Oct. 21 and "must honor it."
Steele said the board's vote on Nov. 21 to approve the contract without the paid family medical leave was "peculiar and unprecedented" and the lawsuit is asking a judge to repudiate the board's action.
"Unfortunately, it could be a long process" before the dispute is resolved by the courts, Steele said.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 joined SEIU in filing the suit against BART and its board of directors.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said in a statement that the lawsuit is an "unnecessary action" and "will only delay resolution to BART's labor contract."
Trost said, "A lawsuit is not needed to correct a mistake. When mistakes are made in contract negotiations they are corrected administratively by the parties, acting in good faith. Fortunately this mistake was caught in time before the mistaken language was brought before the district's board for ratification."
She said, "BART will review the lawsuit over the next several days."
The ongoing labor dispute between BART and its workers resulted in two four-day strikes in July and October before the tentative agreement was reached.
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