You’d think two strikes was enough, but in true American form, three strikes seems likely.
The saga over BART’s union contracts has entered a rather unexpected chapter. Agency staff are now saying there’s an error in the contract granting six weeks paid family leave. With that in hand, the Board has rejected the contract, and that means another round of negotiations and possibly even another strike.
The blame for this snafu (and I do mean “snafu” in the original sense), according to East Bay Express editor Robert Gammon, lies square on the shoulders of BART General Manager Grace Crunican. It was her idea, he says, to hire Thomas Hock as negotiator, who unions elsewhere have blamed for intransigence and may have made a strike inevitable. And, as it was her idea to train managers to drive trains, he argues, she is also to blame for the fatal crash that killed two BART employees.
And she was well aware of the six week paid leave.
However, after Hock signed the tentative deal, Crunican’s staff said they discovered that he had made a “mistake” by agreeing to the family medical leave provision and that the BART board had never intended to agree to it. This assertion appears to be highly dubious. The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that Hock actually signed off on the provision three months earlier, in July, and so Crunican, who makes $322,000 a year plus benefits, must have been aware of it. If not, then, at minimum, she’s guilty of incompetence or gross negligence.
Although BART has since terminated Hock’s contract, the unions say they have no intention of renegotiating the deal. They contend that the agreement on the family leave benefit was no mistake and that Hock was well aware of what he was doing. However, if the BART board continues to refuse to agree to the tentative deal, then the transit agency will face yet another stalemate — and a possible third strike.
With accusations like this, it’s no wonder Gammon is calling for Crunican to resign or be fired.