BART's Lead Negotiator Has a History of Illegal Behavior

"The transit agency has sought to portray its workers as being unreasonable, but it hired a private negotiator that has a record of violating federal labor law."

According to the article, Tom Hock works for Veolia, a French company that operates transit and water and sewage treatment plants under contract with public agencies in Europe, the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Contracting the operation of public services to private corporations is known as privatization or public private partnership. A case in point is Veolia's operation of the AirBART bus from Coliseum BART to the Oakland airport.


An erroneous assumption is sometimes made that turning over the operation of these public services to private corporations somehow makes them profitable to the public agency. This does not happen. What happens is the private company bids on a contract and then attempts to make a profit FOR THEMSELVES which often times results in service cuts and inept management.

As an example, if BART's operations budget is $500 million/year then Veolia could bid on running it for BART for $550 million/year and it would be explained to the public that the initial higher cost of privatization would result in later savings as the contracts were renewed or rebid later on. In the meantime, Veolia gets to pocket $50 million/year profit, or more if they find ways to cut costs. This would not automatically mean busting the unions but could lead to more strikes.

Numerous articles from newspapers around the country illustrate Veolia's involvement in transit services.

LA Times Review of Veolia

LA Times Chatsworth Crash Veolia

Phoenix Bus Veolia

Boston Commuter Rail Veolia

(MBCR referenced in the Boston Globe article is a joint venture of Veolia and Bombardier.)

Long Island Bus Veolia

Austin Light Rail Veolia

Does Veolia have a vested interest in provoking labor unrest at BART? Consider the eventual return of service with replacement workers during a potential protracted strike. Who would be a prime contender for an emergency contract to provide replacement workers? Veolia?

Some of the commenters on this site think that would be just wonderful. It is probably not a coincidence that Tom Hock works for Veolia, that Veolia already has a BART contract to operate AirBART and that Tom Hock has been alleged to be a monkey wrench thrown into the current negotiations.

For those who hate unions and believe privatization of public services is a good thing, ask yourselves how allowing large corporations to bury their snout even further into the public trough than they already do is a good thing? Veolia is a French company so the profits they make may indeed go offshore. Isn't there more than enough of that already?

So keep on hatin the unions folks, you might just get what you wish for...

Except in the long run, you could end up with, "uhhh, awww shit, that's not even remotely how we hoped it would be..." instead.