Now That Unions Have Approved Tentative Contract Agreement, BART Board Must Vote

A second BART union whose members walked off the job during two strikes this year has approved a tentative contract agreement with the transit agency’s management, BART management officials announced this morning.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 members voted Friday to approve the four-year contract, which includes a 15 percent raise and pledges better safety conditions for workers.

The vote came as Service Employees International Union Local 1021, the largest union involved in contract negotiations with BART, also voted overwhelmingly to approve the contract.

ATU Local 1555 represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, while SEIU 1021 represents 1,430 mechanics, clerical workers and custodians.

In a statement, BART Board President Tom Radulovich said that while the unions gained “a reasonable wage increase in the labor agreements, BART gained priceless changes to outdated work rules which will help pay for the wage increases while allowing BART to modernize and operate more efficiently.”

Under the contracts, management and workers agreed to use technology to streamline operations and ensure the financial sustainability needed to reinvest in the 41-year-old transit system, BART management officials said.

“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.

Now that both unions have approved the contract, BART’s board of directors is expected to vote on the agreement later this month, according to agency spokesman Jim Allison.

The vote will likely come before the board’s upcoming Nov. 21 meeting, he said.

Negotiations over the contract between BART management, ATU 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 began earlier this year but fell apart twice over the past six months. The breakdown in negotiations resulted in two four-day strikes in July and October that shut down BART service and gridlocked traffic throughout the Bay Area.

During the second strike, two BART workers were struck and killed while working on the tracks in Walnut Creek. An employee undergoing training was operating the train at the time of the deadly collision.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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