ATU, BART back to square one

August 12, 2009 5:41:57 PM PDT
It is back to the bargaining table for BART and the only one of its unions to reject a contract offer. So, the negotiations begin again.

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They went back to square one and that's the way BART describes the situation with ATU -- the Amalgamated Transit Union. The ATU, the union that includes train operators and station agents, rejected management's contract offer on Monday night.

Both groups were back at the familiar negotiation site to begin talking again when they started talking around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

The BART board has called a special meeting on Thursday to follow its regular meeting. On the agenda it says it will consider imposing terms of employment on ATU, which would give BART the cost savings it says it needs, but that could also trigger a strike. That's exactly what happened in 1979.

The other two unions already approved their contracts, but says they will not cross the picket line if it comes to that.

ATU does not want to be locked into a four-year wage freeze and benefits concessions, preferring a two-year deal. BART says as far as it's concerned every option for solving its fiscal crisis is back on the table.

"Layoffs, imposition of terms and conditions, all of that will be on the table, all of that could be implemented or it could be a combination of all of the above," said chief BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

Johnson says the one thing he believes will not be back on the table are fare increases.

ABC7 tried to reach ATU president Jesse Hunt on Wednesday, but he was unavailable.

Thursday is a big day for the BART Board. In addition to the Board's special meeting on labor negotiations, the regular meeting will also consider adoption of a model for a BART Police Citizen's Oversight Committee and we will likely get our first look at the independent, third-party law firm's assessment of officer actions the day Oscar Grant was shot.

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