BART announces agreement with unions

July 31, 2009 10:48:17 PM PDT
There's a BART agreement on the table, after months of negotiations. But will the rank and file vote for it? Both sides worked through the night, preventing a strike, for now.

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BART riders rode a rollercoaster of uncertainty for more than a month now. That ended with an agreement on Friday at about 10:30 a.m.

BART'S general manager and union leadership walked together to announce a deal had been struck.

"We've reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that represents sacrifice, compromise," said BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger.

BART set on Thursday as the negotiations deadline, the talks went well past midnight, to stop talking could have triggered a move by BART to impose what they wanted, and that in turn could have triggered a strike.

"We have just completed 27 hours of continuous negotiations. We're pleased that we've reached an agreement," said ATU President Jesse Hunt.

BART wanted $100 million in concessions from its unions to help close a four-year, $310 million deficit. The unions say they gave BART both work-rules and benefits concessions, though they don't want to release details until after members get a chance to take a look.

"We've managed to have no job cuts and we've managed to have no salary cuts," said Hunt.

The unions say they think members will be voting by the end of next week.

"We're going to do the best we can to tell our members this may not be the best package they thought they were going to get, but it's the best package we think we can negotiate and we don't think they can do any better in any other way," said SEIU Chief Negotiator Larry Gerber.

BART riders no longer have the anxiety of a possible strike to deal with.

"I feel really great, I feel really good that a strike off," said BART rider Paulette Henry.

"Well that's good because you don't have to worry about how you're going to have to take buses to get here from San Leandro," said another BART rider.

For riders, this is no doubt a good thing, but membership does still to weigh in and the BART board still has to approve the package.

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