November 2, 2013

BART unions ratify contract that ended strike

The new deal will increase pay and improve safety conditions.

By Terry Collins

Associated Press

click image to enlarge

In this Oct. 22, 2013, file photo, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) passengers wait for a train in Oakland, Calif. A BART labor union overwhelmingly ratified a contract agreement on Friday after a bitter dispute prompted two San Francisco area strikes, officials said.

The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. – A second Bay Area Rapid Transit labor union has ratified the contract agreement that brought to an end a bitter labor dispute that led to two San Francisco area transportation strikes, officials said Saturday.

BART said the company had reached agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, whose members voted to approve the four-year deal.

ATU president Antonette Bryant said members ratified the contract by a “significant margin” but would not provide specific numbers.

The other, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, announced late Friday that its members had approved the contract, with 88-percent voting for it.

“The Bay Area and our riders will benefit from these contracts because BART will be able to move forward with the replacement of our aging fleet of train cars and the needed upgrades to meet demand,” BART general manager Grace Crunican, said in a statement.

The agreement includes a 15 percent raise and safer working conditions.

The deal also requires BART workers to pay into their pensions for the first time and increases their monthly health care contributions from about $92 to $129. The unions represent train operators, station agents, custodians and maintenance and clerical workers.

Both unions went on strike for nearly five days in July and after a state-mandated cooling off-period, went back to the picket lines for another four days last month angering thousands of commuters.

During the second strike, two BART workers were killed by a train operated by an employee under training in Walnut Creek on Oct. 19. Company and union officials returned to the bargaining table and reached a deal days later.

BART’s board of directors still needs to vote on the contract at its next meeting, which the agency said would happen “soon.”

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