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$1,000 Bonuses For BART Workers As System Limps Along

KCBS_740 OAKLAND (KCBS) -- As BART is getting ready to ask voters for $3.5 billion in bonds to keep the system running, and amid rising rider frustration over a track problem in the East Bay, the agency is handing out $1,000 bonuses to many of its workers.

The bonuses go to all union workers, and they're written into the current contracts for station agents, train operators, maintenance workers and engineers.  It's incentive pay, because BART's ridership keeps going up, but not necessarily because the stations are any cleaner or the trains are running on time.

This, to State Sen. Steve Glazer, is a head scratcher - especially because of the upcoming bond measure to upgrade the system.

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"They haven't been financially responsible. And so, the question we're going to face this coming November is, should we reward bad behavior? They haven't been spending their money well; they've given big raises to workers and their managers, they've given out bonuses, but they don't have the money to keep spare parts, or to have a ten car train running during rush hour," Glazer said.

But, BART Board Member Gail Murray told KCBS the bonuses are maybe $3 million per year, which is miniscule compared to the capital needs bill of nearly $10 billion.

Murray scoffed at Glazer's suggestion to open up contract negotiations a year early to show both sides can put aside bad blood from the last negotiation, and earn the public's trust.

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