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This is a tentative deal that still needs approval from the union's members. But leaders, on both sides, feel comfortable it will pass. This weekend, BART and the union locked themselves behind these doors and haggled until they emerged with smiles on their faces.
"I want to announce we have reached a tentative agreement with ATU," said BART board of director's president Tom Blalock.
BART and the union representing train operators and station agents announced a deal just five hours before a strike that would have impacted about 340,000 daily BART commuters.
"We think this is a solid fair agreement given the economic times and I'm confident our members will do what's right for everyone involved," said ATU Local 1555 president Jesse Hunt.
Amalgamated Transit Union leaders will recommend its members vote yes on a four year contract that addresses the union's earlier concerns. The ATU complained its members were shouldering a "disproportionate" amount of BART's $100 million budget cuts.
"We believe this agreement is much more equitable than what we were looking at before hand," said Hunt.
"I think the political leaders were wise in not inserting themselves where they could disrupt the days' negotiations," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
But local politicians said they did help get both sides back to the bargaining table after an impasse was declared last Wednesday. The ATU was demanding a two year contract, but it eventually backed away. A strike could have cost businesses and governments millions of dollars.
"Particularly in a city like San Francisco that would have had overtime costs and other related costs in terms of managing an increase in traffic, an increase in parking demand," said Newsom.
This is a tentative agreement that still needs to be ratified by ATU's roughly 865 members. But for now a strike has been averted, and the Bay Area can breathe a sigh of relief.
"We can say that we're sorry. We truly regret the inconvenience and uncertainty to the public," said BART general manager Dorothy Dugger.
The union did not want to discuss details until it takes the proposal to its members. We're told a full vote will take place sometime early next week.
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