The BART Police Officers’ Association secured an award of nearly $1.1 million for its members at arbitration. Arbitrator Ron Hoh ruled for BPOA, finding the Bay Area Rapid Transit District subcontracted BPOA bargaining unit work in violation of the union's MOU.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit District decided to replace the nearly forty year old fire alarm systems at seven stations on the San Francisco side of its operations. The District entered into a contract with Blocka Construction Company to retrofit fire alarm systems at the stations. When decommissioning the old alarms, the District circumvented the MOU between the District and BPOA by requiring Blocka to subcontract non-union security personnel to act as “Firewatch” while the decommissioned alarms were replaced.
As soon as the BPOA discovered this MOU violation, a grievance was filed demanding the positions immediately be provided to BPOA members along with traditional make-whole remedies. Knowing the MOU prohibits subcontracting, the District attempted to avoid its contractual obligations by supplanting the CSOs with security personnel disingenuously labeled “Firewatch.” The District could not refute the evidence confirming that the jobs the District subcontracted out were actually jobs historically performed by CSOs. The Arbitrator stated:
“[t]he evidence thus shows that CSO’s regularly monitor from fixed-site posts [at] various District locations for both safety and security reasons, including safety functions whose goal is to keep the public away from both stations and rail right-of-way at construction locations and when station and track related repairs and necessary. In addition, their job description includes the duty of ‘monitor(ing) construction sites when contractors are not working at night’ - a major element of the station alarm replacement project involved here - and ‘report(ing) situations requiring...emergency assistance.’ It cannot be disputed that the existence of fires on District property ‘...require(s)...emergency assistance.’”
The District's Project Manager claimed the two positions are wholly unrelated. But, Arbitrator Hoh admonished the District, stating:
“It is apparent that her (Patrice McElroy) decision during the grievance procedure that the fire watch duties were closest to those of the District Safety Monitor was founded upon less than fully necessary information...The duties involved here do not better fit those of Safety Monitors as claimed by the District. The fire watch function has nothing to do with either ‘assist(ing) independent contractors in safety areas,’ serving as ‘liaison between the District and (contracted) construction crews’ or reporting to the District and/or those contractors any incidents, injuries or violations of safety work practices.’”