BART Management Says High Absenteeism is a Top Priority

There's no shortage of issues for BART and its unions to resolve if another strike is to be averted in a month - including the 40 unscheduled absences that management says drivers and station agents take on average each year.

That comes to about one day off for every six days worked, and it's on top of the 13 paid holidays and up to six weeks of vacation that workers also receive every year.

It's 14 more absentee days than San Francisco's Muni drivers average, according to city records.

Besides 12 paid sick days apiece, workers may be out for jury duty, family medical leave, disability or industrial injury.

Or they may just be no-shows.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said high absenteeism among the system's 945 train operators and station agents cost the agency $30 million last year in overtime, largely to cover the shifts.

She said fixing the problem was at the top of her priority list during talks with the striking unions, along with health and pension costs.

BART says 10 percent of its workers account for half the absences.

"There are those who drive those numbers up, and I'm trying to get (my staff) to manage those people," Crunican recently told The Chronicle's editorial board.

It turns out, drivers and station agents have an incentive to call in sick.

Even if they haven't put in a full 40-hour workweek, they're still entitled to receive overtime - paid at up to twice the normal rate, depending on the day and time - for working extra shifts.

Station agents, who earn a maximum $62,859 annually in base pay, average $17,000 apiece in overtime - largely because of the absenteeism.

Fingers crossed that management does not cave to the unions on their outrageous demands. They want bulletproof glass in their booths...fine, but you now have to pay your fair share for pension and healthcare, to go along with a 4% cumulative raise over 4 years...if they were smart they would start hiring replacement workers for the next strike in 1 month!

Yeah I agree , the "calling in rate " is insane.

40 hours worked or NO overtime.(Vacation and Comp being the exception)

Why this is being fought at all is beyond me ...then again...I have said this a few times and got slammed for it so...maybe I am wrong

I'm game; I'm sick of paying through the noise and nose for less and less service while BART management just continues to NOT MANAGE anything year after year and gives themselves more and more. If BART Managmennt and Board were doing their jobs, BART wouldn't be in such a state of disrepair after 40 years.

No shows is absolutely wrong--conceded.

Jury duty is a legal requirement--you can go to jail if you don't show up for it.

Family Medical Leave--unless there's a death in the family, this is usually planned in advance, such as surgery, etc. The FMLA laws apply to the private sector, too, so there's nothing unique here about BART.

Military Leave--the very people screaming "Support Our Troops" are probably the same ones griping about BART employees who are on military leave.

Disability--I agree some people abuse the definition of "disability" but industrial injuries *do* occur and better safety is one of the things the union is asking for in this contract.

California state law says that overtime must be paid for any hours worked over 8. Other days don't matter. If you work at McDonalds on Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but don't work the rest of the week, you're legally entitled to 8 hours of overtime.