BART's new labor negotiations site to counter the unions?
Their facts:
- The average BART employee makes more than $120,000 a year in salary and benefits.
- Train Operator makes $37.75/hour. To close doors and make station announcements?
- Result of current contract rolled over for four years accounts for $116 million of the projected $250 million four year deficit.
That's much more than the combined executive bonus' pay of 300k

Changing a Seat at BART – Not So Simple

Last year, BART installed new seats in 205 train cars as part of a major upgrade of the interior amenities of our system. While we hope the changes are a comfort to our riders, they may be surprised to know that it takes two employees at BART to change out a seat cushion and backing under current contract rules.

The contract allows a utility worker to unfasten the snaps that hold a seat cushion in place. But the two screws fastening a seat back can only be touched by a journeyman mechanic. BART changed some 26,000 seat cushions last year. As a result, we think it would be more efficient if one employee was authorized to service the entire portion of a seat. It would result in freeing up mechanics to perform more important, skilled work. ***It mentions "under current contract rules." Does that mean BART created that rule, or the union did? BartleyBoy, I remember you mentioning that "management decided it is a mechanic who has tools not a cleaner". So if that is the case, then why doesn't management just send a memo down to the utility worker that he/she will now be able to carry tools? It just seems too simple of a solution...***

Paperless Pay Stubs Now Back To Paper:

In an effort to save money and reduce the amount of paper BART uses, we moved to an electronic pay stub format for employees two years ago. Most of our employees use direct deposit and under a new system they could access their pay stub information via secure computer login. In recent months, the Amalgamated Transit Union filed a grievance over the paperless system and an arbitrator has upheld the protest – meaning BART will now have to go back to paper pay stubs and must retroactively issue paper pay documents to employees to cover pay periods from the past two years.

Station Maintenance – Walk the Line

Perhaps nowhere are work rules more arbitrary than when it comes to the “drip line” rule regarding maintenance at BART stations. Under this rule, one classification of worker – a patio worker — is allowed to clean the outdoor areas of a station up to the station’s drip line, essentially a rain gutter. Another type of BART employee – a System Service worker – has authority to clean only the interior spaces of a station.

This two-tier maintenance system leads to the irregular or partial cleaning of stations and is exacerbated by the fact that patio workers work only Monday through Friday while System Service workers are assigned to shifts seven days a week.
***It mentions a patio worker, rather than what BartleyBoy referred to as a Grounds Worker. Are they the same positions? Again, if BART management created this rule, as BartleyBoy stated, then why would it be so much trouble to remove it?***

Beneficial Past Practices No Longer Benefiting BART:

For example, BART is required to allow a certain number of employees to work on holidays at the rate of double time and a half. The number of holiday shifts is not tied to any particular need for staffing on any individual holiday. Instead, it is pegged to an average of workers operating on holiday shifts from the late 1980s.

Similarly, BART is required to staff certain facilities and certain operations units at levels dating from decades ago whether they are needed or not in 2009.

Can someone clarify this? If BART management is to be blamed for all of these issues because they created all of them, then why don't they just make revisions to the contract? Instead of finger pointing, why don't both sides just make some concessions? While I don't think BART execs should be getting bonuses right now, I also don't think $37.75/hour for a TO or $120k for the average BART worker is a very good use of taxpayers money.

Ahhh, contract time. The best 1/2 truths and smoke n' mirrors game EVER.

It is fairly sad that the Management and unions can't seem to play well with each other.. So much distrust. And well deserved sometimes.

I know it's political, intertwined with federal money.. But I really don't like them claiming riders and employees must pay more, and how bad or dire the deficit is, then the next couple of meetings they award multiple big contracts.. Each one more than the deficit they have.

Some projects were shelved when they had record ridership, and record tax money.. Now they use the bad economy, start spending, pull old projects off the shelf and award bids to start expansions. Then say riders and employees must pony up some $$..

Then you read that management is not working on the labor contracts, but happily working on and awarding contracts to the airport or diesel trains to Antioch (or even SJ)? Oh and contracts to consultants for the shooting.

Reminds me of our state, they don't know how to not spend, so instead of doing the job the voters put you there for. They try to have the public vote on budget ideas that won't work.

The first casualty in any war is the truth.

Train Operator since 2003's picture

At top pay a station agent and train operator make $30.06/hr x 160 hrs a month is $4809.60 x 12 months is $57,715.20 per year. I guess the $7.75 per hour extra goes to (for me and all the illegal aliens)medical /dental/vision/retirement benefits?

You are also comparing the executive BONUSES to our SALARY, What the fuck dude are you really that stupid?

Ok, Saying a T/O just pushes a button and makes station announcements is like saying a lawyer just talks in a courtroom or a mechanic just turns a wrench. If doing this job is that easy, why months of testing, training and then testing again just to push a button and talk?

The paper pay stub issue was that when BART switched to paperless the sheer volume of mistakes made on peoples paychecks has caused a backlog of pay inquires that now date back to when the switch was made. I know a lady that has been waiting 3 years for a mistake on her pay to be fixed. So if you have a pay problem the the first thing they say is fax a copy of your pay stub. Already, we have twice the paper being used in the very first step!

So the Union Grieved and a what? Third party Arbitrator? Yes, a non union person sat down with both sides and saw the gross mayhem that was happening to the union employees pay and ruled in our favor. The sheer man hours that is going to be needed to fix the problems going back years is going to get real expensive and guess who will be paying for that. And here you complain about the cost of printing paychecks.

well I gotta go, I hope this is a little clue about what's going on.

Smoke and mirrors game is right.

so the pay stubs were just as well managed as much of BART procedures, I'm shocked. That said $30/hour base pay for a station agent is overly generous. No sympathy here. And whatever the "truth" of the two crafts to change a seat cushion story, that is lame. 'Course the union solution would be to demand that the cheaper craft get the higher craft pay if they "touched" a tool. That era is over, cross the "drip line" and keep moving. So many times when I enter a station, one or more non S/A's are standing in the booth shooting the breeze. Even if legitimate it is bad PR.

TreoBART's picture

You couldn't pay me enough to deal with the idiots that come through the gates of the BART station. Do you really want the same types people who are flipping burgers for minimum wage running the station booths? If you think customer service is bad now, wait till you get some teenage Oakland punk working the booth with someone screaming in their face about a demagnitized 5 cent ticket. I can hear the gunshots now.

$30/hr before Uncle Sam and the Gubernator take their half and enough benefits to pay for the occasional trip to the crazy house seems about right to me.

Friend pays union dues about $75+ plus the common $30+ assessment by their union.. They pay about $80+ for Medical. (getting this from an operators paycheck so it may vary)

So there is another couple hundred off the paycheck. I was trying to see what they pay that normal jobs don't. That knocks them down a few bucks/hr.

I don't see the pay being over the top for the training and responsibility of Agents and operators. And my friend does say the technical staff is underpaid and the good workers leave to make more money after the training and experience for a resume. Management also seems to make bad decisions some due to political pressure, some cronyism, some incompetence.

I find it entertaining (friend does not) until the night of june 30 and September 30 when I find myself watching TV to see if BART is taking me to work the next morning, that Sucks but a great excuse to be late.

Sometimes I wonder what BART would be like if it was an honor system (proof of payment)... at first it sounds crazy until I contemplate the fact that LA Metro has had the honor system since the start of rail service. Their fare evasion rate is just slightly higher than agencies with faregates (because there is still about 2% fare evasion even with faregates)... BUT the savings recouped by not staffing a station agent and installing/maintaining expensive faregates saves them millions every year. Then again, their fare structure is not distance based for rail, as BART is.

BART lists:

Utility Worker - $29.86/hr
Station Agent - $37.75/hr
Track Equipment Operator - $40.47/hr
Train Operator - $37.75/hr
Transit Vehicle Mechanic - $40.47/hr

Where is the difference coming from? Health benefits? Retirement? Work rules? Other? There's no MOU publicly available that I can find, and no publicly available salary schedule. Those are two things that would take a lot of the bark out of the accusations flying from both sides.

Contrast this with how San Francisco does things (usually, BART tends to come out looking pretty good in comparison, but):

- MOUs for all of the MTA/MUNI unions are available online (ya ya they're still more vague than they ought to be, referring to a litany of previous MOUs to define behavior)
- Salary schedules for each job classification are clearly listed (along with some previous rates)

So, for instance, let's take drivers (SF Civil Service classification 9163). For a long time MUNI was (and might still be) setting their salary by taking the average of the top two highest paying agencies in the nation. This works out to a top *base* pay rate of $27.915/hr -- a far cry from $38, even $30/hr.

Station Agents (9131) top out at $35.075, fare "cops" (9132) at $30.90/hr, and "transit car cleaners" (9102) at $26.6875/hr.

The VTA also posts similar information in a fairly easy to find fashion. Their TOs (1187/1224) top out at $28.45/hr.

AC Transit info is here:

if you go to and click on the contract you can see the pay rates for mechanics, janitors and other SEIU represented workers, it's quite a ways into the contract, but it's there, the pay rates listed are for dayshift workers, swing shift makes 7% more and graveyard makes 9.5% more, but only on days they work, if they take vacation/holidays/sick they don't get the differential.

caintgetright's picture

$37 an hour for what?

*the year and a half you're part time and need to get a second job to survive?

*Appox 8 years of waiting for a shift close to home and where you can spend afternoons and weekends with your family, who is going to commute 125 miles a day for a $15.00 job that makes you wait years to have a decent shift?

*Dealing with people who spit at you, throw urine in your face, cuss, stink so bad that you gag and your eyes water.

*Get out of the train and stick your hands in a switch machine that has rats, urine, feces, and God knows what else to get your passengers home timely.

I could go on and on. You don't see Linton Johnson, in his $800 suit , willing to get down and nasty with those TO and SA who deal with the public day to day, how much does he make? If this job is just pushing a button and calling stations, come with me when the brakes are stuck on 6 cars back on a 10 car Baypoint train at commute time, the stares, the comments, and the loathing of the passengers because it's all YOUR FAULT.

$37? Is it worth that for someone to lead you out of the Tube or Berkeley hills tunnel in a fire or other emergency? Or getting out of the train to see if the person that just jumped in the track way somehow is still alive despite his head being crushed by the wheels and then rolled like a cigar underneath the train. Do you wanna see then somehow blame yourself for that person killing themselves?

I think it's not enough sometimes.

Actually, I'd love to come with! I think the unpredictable challenges you mentioned are what make your job so interesting. I can't say that that I've seen those incidents you mentioned, but I have definitely seen TOs (and Muni operators under Market) reading a book or taking a nap more than once.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to spit, throw urine, or cuss at you, but I always say thanks to you guys when I get off.

uhhhh, then quit. No one is holding a gun to your head. A lot of people would like to do all those things for $37 an hour.

Uhhh. Brush up on your reading comprehension skills. As previously stated,operators DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT make 37 dollars an hour. That's an outright lie. I WISH I made 37 an hour on base pay.

Like airline pilots, we're paid for what we know how to do, not what we actually do. And honestly, there are so many problems that goes on with these trains and in the system that passengers don't even feel because of the actions and decisions of a train operator.

Considering that you need to make about 30 bucks an hour just to make a decent living in the bay area, I think what we're getting paid is pretty fair.

When you go to apply for a job in the private sector, they tell you what the pay is. They will say $20 an hour or $30 an hour or $50K a year or whatever. They dont' tell you the pay is $27.50 an hour and then, after you take the job, say that the $7.50 is for benefits and you only get $20 an hour. Some of the "benefits" are things that are legally required anyway, such as workers comp insurance. Not really fair to be calculating that into someone's pay.

caintgetright's picture

I'm a TO.

You will see the slackers on any job. It's illegal for TOs to be reading books or sleeping while supposedly operating but it's done. A lot of old timers are leaving so those practices are waning.

IMHO I think it is outrageous, insulting, childish, and mostly unprofessional that BART has that website up trying to cultivate sympathy for their cause. They are complaining about contract THEY signed into. You know damn well Dotty gets her weekends off, she isn't conscripted to work holidays like TO/SA are if inversely assigned. Took me 4 years to where I didn't have to work Thanksgiving involuntarily. I'm not going to continue to complain about this job, but I would like people to know it isn't just pushing door close buttons or talking on the radio. We paid our dues to get to where we are. I can't speak for SA but most of the TOs are dedicated to the safety of the system and take our job seriously. We don't sleep, text, talk on the phone, or read at the console. We are not perfect but we do our best to get you home, work, the ballgame, or wherever on time.

Don't believe everything you read or hear from either side, it's a sorry dance that is done every 4 years and sadly we have to endure it. But you would think one side would take the mature route and not point fingers, call names, or spend money that they whine they don't have to post a website that puts down their employees.

ez rider's picture

i used to date a TO, and we constantly talked while he was operating a train (he'd put me on hold when he had to announce upcoming stations). he also told me about weekend barbeques that happened at the daly city yard. he'd work an 8 hour day, but only put in about 2 hours of actual work on sundays. what's up with that? not slacking off...?

Well your ex only told you the perks of the job, and was doing something illegal (talking to you while operating the train). Not all operators are not like him.

Here is a good day at BART while operating in service from Pittsburg/Bay Point to SFO

In an 8/10 hour day:

2 round trips

4 9/10 car trains

18/20 doors being open and closed

96 platform stops 96 button pushes of the door close button.

160+ miles of rail to monitor

If you see a TO talking on a cell phone or anything like that, I would definitely report it as a safety violation. Most are doing an honest job being the eyes and ears for anything that might happen on the tracks. It's kind of like a firefighter in the firehouse. Most of the time it's fairly easy, but you want them alert and ready when needed such as noticing debris on the tracks (BART has hit debris lately, I don't think this was due to an inattentive TO but rather to being in the tunnels where it's harder to see things), stopping a jumper or noticing an automobile that has gone onto the BART right-of-way (yes, it happens, especially where BART runs down the freeway median).

ez rider's picture

bad citizen...? yeah, whatever. maybe you should arrest me.

bitter ex...? not at all, we dated months ago.

publicly shaming train operators because i'm a bitter ex...? right. this site is called bart rage, isn't it.

first I specificly commented that $30 was rich for an S/A NOT a T/O clearly two different jobs. Second, yes you work odd hours, so do many of the rest of us--when I was in retail, I was there pretty late on XMAS Eve selling books to the late buyers. No one drafted me into the job, I applied.
I think the most honest comment I have read said 'don't believe...either side' Yup, its just like politics, And as for complaining by BART about what they signed, same, same workers--that's the process. The only people w/out a say are the riders/citizens who pay ALL the costs one way or another.

The part about BART being stuck with rules for 39 years made me laugh since BART runs the place like it is still 1950. Professional employees with advanced degrees have to punch time clocks and are docked pay down to the 1/100 of an hour if their train is late (though still expected to do a lot of work for free, such as attend meetings during lunch hour). Then, if we're on vacation but our boss forgets to put in the time, we don't get paid at all until the next pay period. Getting pay mistakes corrected is a nightmare.

This is one of the reasons paperless pay stubs are now back to paper: an impartial, third-party arbitrator ordered them to do it because the electronic system is INCOMPLETE and INACCURATE.

The brilliant way management set up the system means you cannot review complete pay stubs for prior periods! In other words, I can see my current pay stub, listing accrued vacation time, etc., but if I want to look at a past check, all I see is the amount and the accruals are not there. This means I have no way to know if BART is accurately tracking my vacation or leave time.

As for the pay rates, they are posting the TOP rates that people get after they reach the top step of the pay scale. The starting pay is much lower. So much lower for some positions that they remain unfilled for a long time. Why don't they post the starting rates, which, for most positions, are below market?

I would be completely for any rule changes that actually treated professional employees like professionals.
Why don't they post the pay rates for some of their professional positions such as attorneys, engineers, programmers, etc. These are all below market.

TreoBART's picture

Electronic punch in/out systems are nothing but trouble for a lot of large companies. I still get class action lawsuit paperwork in the mail from the Big Box Electronics Store because of all the lost time and bad rounding from their time clock system. And I quit working there almost 3 years ago!

Overtime depends on how much overtime is worked and varies from person to person. There are no quarterly or annual bonuses for anyone except management.

Here we are again, as before, claiming budget woes and blaming BART's Union Workers for what are, in reality, bad business decisions made by BART's Managers and Board of Directors.

As usual, EVIL Union Workers are responsible for bringing down the house. Here's the TRUTH about a typical Worker's pay.

As a Train Operator, I work a 10 hour shift, 4 days per week. A typical Train Operator shift, such as mine, does two loops - one during commute and one during non-commute.

Number of people I transport in a
day: 5,000
week: 20,000
pay period: 40,000

Gross Pay (before taxes)
hour: $30.0671
day: $300.67
week: $1,202.68
pay period: $2,405.37

My cut of each passenger's ticket:
$2,405.37 / 40,000


BART loves to say that benefit are equal to Workers gross pay. If that's true then that means each passenger is paying me $0.12 toward my salary. How can ANYONE say that I'm paid too much?

BART's money troubles have NOTHING to do with our Union Workers!

It has EVERYTHING to do with poor business choices like spending $200M on the failed Advanced Automatic Train Control (AATC) experiment.

BART recently approved $500M for a People Mover system to service Oakland Airport. YES, HALF A BILLION DOLLARS! We've had buses doing that job for nearly 30 years at a far lower cost. We will NEVER see a return on that "investment."

These are just two examples of irresponsible spending by BART. Workers should not be punished for poor decisions that WE have no say in.

Let's also not forget Peoplesoft's B.A.P. system that is still causing paycheck shortages, system wide. Or how about money that's constantly transferred to the "capital" account, never to be seen again.

The time has come for an independent auditor to inspect BART's books and get to the bottom of these financial shenanigans.

Since the question was asked, I'll explain how the work day progresses for a typical Train Operator, who works four 10-hour shifts, beginning at Bay Point.

Bay Point has most of the 10 hour shifts because is it the longest run. Other lines have shorter runs therefore, those T.O.s typically work five 8-hour shifts.

Here's a typical day for a Train Operator (T.O.). Times shown are cumulative.

00:00 - Train Operator arrives at work and checks in with Supervisor to go over any daily bulletins, changes, or operational notices (Sign-Fors).

00:30 - T.O. boards train within 30 minutes of arrival. (BART's work rules say the T.O. must board the train when it arrives at Bay Point.)

00:45 - Train #1 departs Bay Point, headed for SFO.

02:15 - Train arrives at SFO. (Travel time to SFO is 85-90 mins.)

02:45 - T.O. "Falls Back" two trains. This creates a 10 break for bathroom, water, walking time to and from the train to the break room (3 mins to / 6 mins back). The T.O. must be on the train ~5 mins. before outbound "wheel roll."

02:50 - Train #2 departs SFO, headed for Bay Point.

04:20 - Train arrives at Bay Point. (Travel time to Bay Point is 85-90 mins.)

04:25 - Train Operator's 30 minute lunch break begins.

05:00 - Train Operator's lunch ends.

05:15 - T.O. boards next arrival at Bay Point, to take back to SFO.

05:30 - Train (#3) departs Bay Point, headed for SFO.

07:00 - Train arrives at SFO. (Travel time to SFO is 85-90 mins.)

07:30 - T.O. "Falls Back" two trains. This creates a 10 break for bathroom, water, walking time to and from the train to the break room (3 mins to / 6 mins back). The T.O. must be on the train ~5 mins. before outbound "wheel roll."

07:35 - Train (#4) departs SFO, headed for Bay Point.

09:05 - Train arrives at Bay Point. (travel time to Bay Point is 85-90 mins.)

09:10 - Train Operator's 10 minute break begins.

09:20 - Train Operator's 10 minute break ends.

This leaves 40 minutes remaining in the Operator's Day.

That 40 minutes is NOT always present. If the train is delayed then the T.O. arrives later and either misses their lunch (if late on the 1st loop) or has less time at the end of shift (if late on the 2nd loop).

As you can see, there is no waste in the schedule. The trains arrive and depart every 15 minutes. Shortening a break by a minute or two doesn't result in any gains, but simply returns the T.O. to a train a minute sooner. The train STILL leaves on a fixed schedule.

This timetable should also demonstrate to riders that WE care about delays just as much as YOU do - because they affect us too.

I hope this helps people understand the timing of it all.

> .. "Falls Back" does that mean the TOs sort of go into a "queue"

Yes, the TO waits for the third train. The fallbacks are designed into the TO's assignment to give him a break at the end of each run. The fallbacks also allow some flexibility in case there is a problem. If a train is taken out of service, before it reaches the end of the line (say, it's sent to a yard), that means the three train fallback turns into a two train fallback. If a section of the system is closed (fire, police action) fallbacks can change. Sometimes you turn your own train - which means you go to the other end and run the train from the other end. This means no fallback. TO's are limited to a 12 hour workday by law. So, if a guy ahead of you would normally get back after the 12 hours, the assignments get swapped and you might get four fallbacks and he gets two, etc.

Bear in mind that this detailed example is the ideal case. Most days it happens this way. But, in a week, something will change.

The system is old, beat up, worn out and in dire need of repair. Most TO's know these weak spots, and can quickly keep the trains moving. But, when the system breaks, it is usually three or four individual failures (half of them known, half unknown), compounding on top of one another.

In all fairness, the Matier and Ross column cited by management's site was picking on the 15 minute breaks after an SFO to Millbrae run.

Sure would be interesting to be a fly on the wall of some 100k+ in management people and what they typically do since we pay them a lot per hour. But that's almost impossible to do since the jobs would be very different depending on which department. I have been in the kaiser building many times and Friday seems like a day off or half day by the number of people compared to the rest of the week. Do they typically work 4-10 hour days or 5, 8 hour days?

This is one thing that really irks me about BART management. They stuck all the SEIU employees on timeclocks to prevent "cheating", yet on Friday afternoons there's never a manager to be found. Managers "work from home", which means they send an e-mail or two, and get paid for the entire day. My manager has "perfect attendance" even though he isn't there past 1 most Fridays.

Consultants don't work on Fridays either.

Some departments let their clerical employees work 9-80, others don't.

Oh you are just jealous.. Managers are the bosses they do what they want.. That is why they are called the BOSS.. They only answer to their boss and the public which neither has any motivation to make themselves more efficient, besides it's easier to go after workers to point out work rules they negotiated and signed for since most of the public comments I read are anti worker & union and more pro management.

HELLO, how about making BART more efficient, stop the waste. Every employee I have ever talked to says there is enormous amount of wasted money and supplies.

Anyway back to sarcasm.. The boss is the boss, stop whining, they can take Friday off if they want, the riders pay them a "SALARY" which means they get paid no matter how many hours they put in. We are covering it with our bart fare..

The Salary employees would lurch if they were ever told to punch a clock, and some might claim they work more than 40/wk. Maybe have them punch for a month or two (you'd see everyone show up on Friday).