BART union leaders consider proposal


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Trains should keep running through next week at least. BART's two largest unions will take the latest contract offer to its membership -- ATU on Tuesday, the SEIU on Thursday.

ATU chapter president Jesse Hunt says BART's offer hasn't changed since negotiations began April 1, but it's time for the membership to see what it is and give leadership some direction.

"We believe they're just repackaging the same thing, so we think it's time to take it to our members," Jesse Hunt.

"We believe it s a good offer, especially in these hard economic times," says BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

The third union involved, AFSCME, says it wants to wait to take the offer to membership until after it gets more details from BART.

"The district brought a proposal late last night and basically could not explain all of it," says Jean Hamilton, the AFSCME local 3993 president.

They may disagree on whether it's time for a membership vote, but all three major unions are in agreement on one thing; they wish BART would consider a union proposal that they say could save $760 million.

They say that money could be saved, if the time it takes for employees to become vested to receive retirement medical benefits were extended from five to 15 years.

Hunt accuses BART of ignoring the option because it would hurt managers.

"BART has used that as quite the incentive for bringing people in from other transit agencies and other properties here," says Hunt.

"If they had a $700 million proposal that was viable, we would run for it. We would love it. We're willing to look at a plan like that, however the 15-year vesting schedule isn't something that CalPERS offers. It's not even something we can do," says Johnson.

BART says the current contract offer is a good one that preserves jobs and salaries, but achieves a $100 million savings through benefit and work rule concessions that reduce overtime.

LINK: Information on transit alternatives in the event of a BART strike

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