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BART Labor Issue Showcases Importance Of Contract Version Control


Contracts go through several different versions during the creation process and it's crucial for both sides of a negotiation to ensure they are always working off the most current version. In the case of the BART labor dispute, this was not the case, and now, additional legal action has been taken as a result.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 are two of the biggest unions associated with San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Back in October, the two unions went on strike, which prompted rapid negotiations between workers and the agency to resolve their issues and get the unions back to work. One of the major areas of discussion was a Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provision that was initially agreed upon, but later voted down, which caused both unions to file a lawsuit this week, stating that BART removed the provision, which was agreed upon by both sides in early November.

This is a different story than the one BART is telling. BART claims that the provision, which states it will give full pay for the first six weeks, was rejected and the unions verbally agreed to take it out. The problem was, it was removed at the last minute after a contract that included the provision was signed by all negotiators. BART says it never should have been signed.

The reason? Poor contract management.

Allegedly, the issue stems from an older version of the document containing that provision that made its way into the final version of the contract. Although BART claims both sides agreed that it was too expensive, it was signed anyway, which has led both unions — who would benefit from the provision — to claim that it was in fact agreed upon because there is physical evidence to support that claim. BART eventually rejected that final deal, which not only prolonged the labor situation, but is also prompting the two unions to take legal action.

This showcases the importance of a contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution that can keep all documents and iterations of each document organized. Using the document compare feature in a CLM system would have easily allowed whoever was tasked with reviewing the contract during its development to recognize any changes and react accordingly if there was any problem with the finished contract, as there apparently was in this case.

Contracts go through myriad changes during their development and it's the responsibility of all involved parties to ensure they are using the most up-to-date and accurate documents at all times. While it can be assumed that this particular incident was unintentional, it shows that mistakes can happen and they can have a significant impact on negotiations and contract lifecycle management.

With the right CLM solution, not only can users easily compare different versions of contract documents, many solutions offer hierarchical storage of all contract iterations, meaning that versions are attached and users can easily recognize which is most accurate and current. Storing and managing these documents in the cloud offers another level of convenience and efficiency, which can go a long way toward ensuring there are no mistakes regarding old and inaccurate document versions.

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