ATU president optimistic about BART vote

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
During a Monday morning news conference, members of the ATU which represents train operators and ticket agents, said members will vote on a tentative agreement next Monday or Tuesday. They will decide the exact date by the end of the day today.

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They are hoping for a very different outcome than the last time they voted on a very similar proposal and the membership gave it thumbs down.

Amalgamated Transit Union Jesse Hunt said it was worthwhile taking negotiations to within hours of the midnight strike deadline because of the concessions the ATU received from management.

"Length of terms was one of the concerns for our members. We were able to negotiate even in this 4-year agreement, the opportunity to look at compensation given some turns of the economy and other changes in languages, that we'll be looking at in a couple years," he said.

BART President Thomas Blalock said Monday morning, "There is a great sense of relief for the whole Bay Area, not just BART workers, and a sense of relief that ATU leadership has embraced the idea that there is an economic crisis going on."

He says he looks forward to a happy conclusion, meaning a different outcome than last time when union members voted down the previous proposal'

"We're getting information out to our members right now and we'll be about there in the field talking to our members, making sure we can get there questions answered about what the agreement is, so that we can have a vote early next week," Hunt said.

Without the specific details of the proposal it is impossible to say who, if anyone, may have gained or lost the most at the negotiating table. The BART riders that spoke with ABC7 Monday mostly sided with management.

"Get a grip you know? Join the rest of us. Come to the world, you know? Get real. They were asking for a little too much," said Flossie Ruggiano of Walnut Creek.

"Well I belong to a union so I sort of lean towards the union side of things. But, getting to work is important so I'm glad they worked it out. I really am," said Wesley Smith of Oakland.

"I've seen a vast improvement since 1980 and I'm a huge supporter of BART. I love riding BART. So, I hope they vote the contract in," said Marylee Martinez, also of Walnut Creek.

Hunt believes the members will vote yes. The last time around just 90 votes separated the "yes" votes from the "no" votes.

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