It's time for BART union leaders to end this charade, ask their members to re-ratify the absurdly generous contract in front of them and move on.

Their latest attempt to squeeze even more money out of tapped-out taxpayers and riders will waste precious court and transit district resources -- and, ironically, delay workers' huge wage increases.

The unions' legal petition filed Tuesday, which has almost no chance of succeeding, can only further poison worker-management relations that must heal so both sides can begin to regain public confidence.

At issue, of course, is the costly family-leave provision signed during collective bargaining by three BART negotiators and overlooked by the district's legal staff.

Kerianne Steele, attorney for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 representing BART workers, holds a stack of legal papers as she speaks
Kerianne Steele, attorney for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 representing BART workers, holds a stack of legal papers as she speaks during a press conference in front of the Superior Court of California County of Alameda courthouse in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. SEUI Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 filed a lawsuit today against members of BART's board of directors, citing the agency over its refusal to accept a disputed paid leave provision in recently negotiated labor contracts. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Yes, it was a display of incredible incompetence. It should have been caught long before union members voted Nov. 1 to ratify the entire contract. Some top administrators and attorneys should be disciplined or fired.

But the evidence is clear: It was a mistake. BART negotiators never intended to pile another costly benefit on top of the rich deal that ended the last four-day strike.

The best proof is union leaders' own communications to their members. As they summarized the tentative contract agreement in great detail, they never mentioned the family-leave provision they now claim was such an integral part.


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They, too, had missed it or, more likely, realized that BART negotiators had erred and didn't want to highlight the provision before the district board unwittingly ratified it. Either way, it's disingenuous to now pretend everyone understood it was part of the agreement.

Most important, district board members were not aware of the provision. The directors had given their negotiators a financial envelope in which to craft a deal. BART administrators even fraudulently cooked the accounting to make the deal fit that constraint. But the family-leave provision was never in those calculations and would have blown the limit.

No matter how much union leaders and attorneys whine to the courts that negotiators reneged, they ignore a critical legal point: Ultimately, approval of the deal rests with the district board.

As irresponsible as directors were with the rest of the contract, they retain the right to say no to the package, just as union members frequently reject tentative agreements their negotiators reach.

BART workers should get real. After all, as long this fight continues, they will not receive the sweet compensation contained in the deal. Wouldn't they prefer to have more money before Christmas?