BART board approves pay raise for top executives, hires new consultant for contract talks 

BART directors voted unanimously Thursday to give raises totaling about 3.7 percent this year to General Manager Grace Crunican and other top officials at the transit agency.

The directors also voted to spend up to $250,000 to hire a consultant they hope will help them improve contract talks with employees and avoid strikes in the future.

The percentage increase in compensation and benefits for the top executives is the same that employees represented by labor unions received in a new contract that was approved early this year, BART spokesman Jim Allison said.

That’s in line with BART’s historical practice of giving top officials raises similar to those it gives to rank-and-file workers, he said.

Crunican’s raise will increase the $323,200 compensation and benefit package she received in 2013.

The board has called for Rhonda Hilyer of Agreement Dynamics Inc., which is based in the Seattle area, to look at every aspect of how the transit agency negotiates contracts, including a system of checks and balances to prevent errors.

BART management’s contract negotiations with employees lasted more than eight months last year and early this year and resulted in two four-day strikes.

In addition, after a tentative agreement was reached in late October, BART management claimed in early November that there had been a glitch and it hadn’t meant to include a provision for paid family medical leave.

A dispute over the medical leave provision led to more labor tension before a resolution was finally reached in late December. A new labor agreement was finally approved by both sides in early January.

BART’s board of directors recently established a special review committee to investigate BART’s labor negotiations policies and practices from top to bottom and to make recommendations to the board and Crunican to improve future negotiations.

That committee recommended hiring Hilyer.

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