Friday, October 18, 2013

BART strike, statement by board president Tom Radulovich, 10/14/13

...We feel like we have reached the limit, the outer limits financially, of what we’re prepared to offer to settle this…we’ve been at this in total for 150 days at this point, and we think it’s time for the union leadership to let us know, to let the people of the Bay Area know, whether they’re going to take an offer to their membership. It is the middle of October. AC Transit negotiations have been going on during the same time. There have been two offers taken to their membership, but not yet, in these negotiations, even though we are months beyond the deadline, have we seen a single offer taken to the membership. The reason we want that to happen is we think we’ve got a great offer on the table.

We’ve got a 12 percent wage increase that they’re going to get regardless. We have also built into this a bonus. If BART ridership and revenue is growing faster than we project, we’re going to share a portion of that with our riders. They can get up to $1,000 a year additional. That’s about 1-1/4 percent of pay for the average paid BART worker. So the economics of these deals are important. The other thing that’s very very important to us are work rules. We have a very well-paid workforce. We offer great benefits.

What we need from them are a set of work rules that allow them to work efficiently and productively, deliver the kind of quality service that our customers need. One of the big issues for us is what’s called beneficial past practices. The beneficial past practices clause says that if we allow workers in any part of the District to do something – you know, you give them a perk, you allow them to park their car in this area or whatever, you give them half a day off – suddenly that right then goes to everybody in their unit. So this is a way of actually increasing costs, really, and limiting management’s flexibility, that has become crippling for the District. We’re very unique in this beneficial past practices clause. Few people in the world, if anyone, still has it. I’ll give you an example. If you have been faxing a report to people, we can’t ask you to email it anymore without a mutual agreement. The union would need to come in and say okay, we’re not faxing anymore, we’re emailing it. So you could imagine this building up, over the decades that BART’s been existent. It becomes a very, very expensive proposition, really gets in of our providing the service we need to provide.

Another important issue for us is the 40-hour work week. Currently at BART, you can call in sick or not show up on the day you’re scheduled to work, then come in on a regular day off, and get overtime, even though you haven’t worked 40 hours. Now most of our workers don’t abuse this, but some do, and the workers that don’t, and the riders, are paying for this. Now we need to clear this out of our contract. We want to give them a fantastically good contract, and that’s what we’ve offered, but we also need our workers to meet us part way, and get rid of some of the things that get in the way of BART providing the service that we need to provide. We understand the anxiety everyone’s feeling right now. The last thing everybody wants is a BART strike. We don’t feel that’s necessary. We’re going to keep talking about this. We’d like our unions to do as other unions have done – take an offer to their workers without going on strike, but I just have to say personally, and there have been a lot of flyers out there saying call your BART director, put out by the unions, the calls I’m getting are about three to one saying you guys need to hold the line, and so folks know what’s at stake here, but they’re asking us to hold the line and they’re asking us to be firm. So we’re trying to do that, and at the same time, trying to live up to everybody’s desire that we not have a strike…if the unions can get to these same savings, we’re all ears on that. All weekend, we were trying to take their best ideas and put them into our proposal. Any time they suggested real savings to us, we embraced those…

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force 2/7/11

BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force meeting 2/7/11, including: Bike to Work Day participation; East Bay Greenway Plan; bike locker procurement/deployment/status; BART bicycle access plan update; meeting travel reimbursement; Alameda County BBATF representative; West Dublin parking (1:38:30, 180MB in stereo). Listen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Transcript: BikeLink discussion, 11/18/10

The following transcript is from one of three video files on the BART Web site, from the November 18, 2010 meeting. This segment begins at time point 1:14:30, during a public comment period.

BART Director James Fang: Our next item…we have a couple of people here speaking this morning. The first is Steve Grover, bike locker procurement contract.

Steven Grover: Hi my name is Steven Grover. My Berkeley-based company is interested in bidding on an upcoming procurement contract for electronic bike lockers, but we’re finding that we probably will not be able to do so, because the terms are becoming increasingly arbitrary, with each contract addendum, over the past five months. For example, Addendum Number 9 establishes a trust so that proprietary materials a company uses to produce its products will be accessible to BART should the company go under or fail to fulfill its obligations. This protects BART, and this makes sense. However, it goes on to say that if the contract is terminated for any reason, the [BART] District can compel release of these materials anyway, and of course BART can terminate any contract just for convenience. So, why go to the cost and trouble of creating a trust to ostensibly protect the very basis of a small technology company like my own, if it can just be cracked open at any time? Here’s another section which talks about protecting the company’s rights to things it developed outside the contract. It distinguishes between things that are developed under the contract and things that were developed before or outside the contract. Things developed under the contract, BART will own, of course. But then there’s this big exception for something called procurement licenses, which effectively gives the District the right to force the supplier to license all of its technology for manufacture by others, even if the supplier is fully in compliance with its obligations under the contract. Those others can then presumably start selling the product to anyone else beside BART, and they don’t have to factor in development costs. There are many other similar examples of things that just don’t make sense if you read very, very, very carefully. But just taking these two, what does this mean for a company like my own, trying to figure out how to bid on this contract? Well, under the contract, the District is obligated to only buy 54 units. So a company that’s developing a product specifically for this contract, they’re going to have to do software, electronics, interfaces, mechanical systems, prototyping, refining, debugging. They’re going to spend a million bucks easily. And if they’re paying attention, they’re going to need to amortize that million bucks over the first 54 units. So instead of a $3 million bid, they’re going to be in for like $8 million. So, despite all of its intense specificity, the contract proposed has gotten so convoluted and arbitrary that bidders cannot determine what kind of a business model to adopt when they’re developing their pricing and developing their bid. Is this an equipment procurement contract or is this a business acquisition contract? Why am I here? Perhaps the Board can help by requesting some simplicity. Three things. One, get rid of the loopholes. They’re not helping anybody in the long run. Two, make this about purchasing a competitive product that fulfills important functions for BART patrons. Period. And three, establish strong protections for BART in the event that the bidder fails to fulfill its obligations or goes bankrupt, but then, stop there. Use an escrow or a trust for proprietary materials, but don’t allow BART to just take possession willy-nilly of the materials in the trust whenever BART wants to. Thank you very much.

BART Director Lynette Sweet (at 1:23:18): I think I’ll address the bicycle gentleman first, because I was real curious. He brought up some very interesting contractual issues that do deserve some kind of comment, and my hope is we heard what he said. Would it be possible for you guys, I’m sorry, would it be possible for the General Manager to provide some kind of feedback on what he spoke about, because it sounded as if, and if he was reading it correctly, it sounded as if we were actually buying out his business, and that’s not what we were looking for in this.

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger: I’d be happy to provide the Board some feedback. This has been a particularly complex procurement, so rather than do it ad hoc, if I could respond to the board offline.

Director Sweet: Well are there other bidders on this contract that are also experiencing the same type of, I don’t know, just confusion over what we’re looking for?

GM Dugger (speaking to someone off-camera): Do you know who the bidders were?

Director Fang: Well if I might jump in just briefly, Director Sweet, we’ve got to be very careful when we have these kind of situations. I totally empathize with that gentleman about the complexity of the BART contracts. Clearly, that’s something we’ve talked about with multimillion-dollar contracts, a lot of the ones that are just getting disqualified because they didn’t fill out the right paperwork. But I’m a little bit hesitant from a BART perspective to have one gentleman come and say, here’s a problem, here’s my problem, the way the contract is being set up is really not good. I’m hesitant to jump in and say, very compelling argument.

Director Sweet: I just want to know.

GM Dugger: I’d be happy to give the Board feedback, but would prefer to do so outside of this meeting.

Director Fang: Excellent.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BART to begin live streaming of board meetings tomorrow

BART will begin live video streaming of board meetings starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. Bookmark this page where you can find archived copies of all meetings from the January 28, 2010 meeting forward.

In light of this, I will discontinue my own future audio recording of BART board meetings. Audio archives of older meetings will continue to be available here, and this blog will continue to offer recordings of future BART bicycle accessibility task force meetings, as my schedule permits.

Thank you to those of you who donated funds to help support my service here, and let's hope the BART service is reliable and makes public access to BART information and decision-making easier and more useful.

Friday, April 23, 2010

BART board meeting 4/22/10

Public Hearing on Proposed East Bay Paratransit Fare Increase; SF Airport Employee Premium Fare Program; Sales Tax Revenue Bonds; NCPA Lodi Energy Center; C-1 Car Auxiliary Power Supply Equipment; New Rail Car Replacement Program. (3:22:40, 186MB) Listen.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

BART board meeting 4/8/10

Fiscal Year 2011 Preliminary Budget Overview; Northern California Power Agency development activities; earthquake safety; Glen Park station development (3:27:45, 190MB) Listen.

BART Bicycle Accessibility Task Force 4/5/10

BART Bicycle Accessibility Task Force meeting 4/5/10, including: MacArthur Transit Oriented Development Update and Bicycle Parking; Earthquake Safety Group work at Fruitvale, San Leandro, Bay Fair and Hayward stations; Bike Station updates; Bike to Work Day support (1:26:21, 79MB in stereo). Listen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

BART board meeting 3/25/10

eBART hiring policies; Translink Program Update. (2:35:49, 143MB)  Listen.