ATU approves 4 year contract with BART

August 26, 2009 12:08:23 AM PDT
The threat of a BART strike appears to have been eliminated tonight with members of the transit agency's second-largest labor union voting in approval of a tentative agreement with management.

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Jesse Hunt, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, said just over 80 percent of members voted in favor of the contract. Members voted at meetings throughout the day at a union hall at 8460 Enterprise Way in Oakland.

"This was not an easy vote today," Hunt said in a statement. "The budget deficit projected by BART executives wasn't caused by our members, nor by BART riders. But it was BART workers and BART riders who were asked to step up to the plate and help resolve this deficit, and we have done that."

Members of ATU Local 1555 voted by a two-to-one margin on Aug. 10 to reject a previous tentative agreement with management that had been reached on July 31.

The new tentative agreement was reached the night of Aug. 16 and put a temporary end to the threat of a strike by BART employees that was scheduled for the next day.

BART Board of Directors President Thomas Blalock said in a statement tonight, "We're extremely pleased with the vote. ATU members showed today they are willing to join their colleagues in SEIU and AFSCME in helping to address the difficult financial challenges facing the district."

Members of BART's other two big labor unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents about 1,500 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, and American Federation of Local, State and Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers, voted two weeks ago to approve the initial tentative agreement.

The leaders of those two unions had said their members would have honored picket lines if ATU Local 1555 had gone on strike.

BART management says the agreements with the three unions help in achieving the agency's goal of cutting $100 million in labor costs over four years. BART faces an estimated $310 million, four-year deficit, according to BART management.

The tentative agreement, which covers four years, now must be ratified by the BART Board of Directors.

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