Bay Area Traffic

Trains running while BART, unions finalize contract

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 BART trains Bay Area Rapid Transit passengers wait for a train Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. BART riders still have #DearBart messages for BART and the unions now that the strike is over.

BART trains were rolling again Tuesday after the strike ended Monday night. The morning commute was hampered by staffing shortages that led some stations not opening at 4 a.m. as planned. But regardless of the bumps, many riders were relieved, if not happy, to have BART back as a transit option.

BART and union leaders spent Tuesday hammering out the final details of the tentative deal. Both sides say they compromised, and while BART did throw some additional money on the table at the end, it's not expected to be enough to prompt a fare increase.

One day after reaching a tentative agreement with BART, Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said despite all the acrimony that lead to it, she believes it's a deal her membership will approve.

"This is a significantly better offer, but I'm going to let the members make that determination," she said.

In announcing the deal, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said the district spent more than it wanted to, at least a little more than the 57 million dollar limit management set on the wage and benefit package last week. That offer included a 12 percent pay raise over 4 years, with workers contributing more to their pension and healthcare.

"This offer is more than we wanted to pay, but it is also a new path in terms of our partnership with our workers and helps us to deliver the BART service of the future," Crunican said.

Neither side would release too many details until union members have a chance to review the deal, but the unions did give in to some work rule changes like incorporating new technologies. In return, the district offered greater safety measures like bulletproof glass for station agents among other items.

"We actually got some of our safety proposals are now going to be in our contract," Service Employees International Union negotiator Leah Berlanga said. "Better lighting. We're going to have a committee formed that's going to look at reopening the restrooms."

SEIU and ATU members will have five days to vote on the agreement.

At the same time BART and the unions were finalizing their deal, a group of East Bay elected leaders were urging state lawmakers to ban future strikes. They stood alongside Orinda City Councilman Steve Glazer at the Walnut Creek BART station.

Glazer began calling for a strike ban during BART's protracted labor dispute. He defied his party platform when he started banbartstrikes.com, a petition drive to ratchet up pressure on legislators to prevent future strikes.

"We really need to think of a better way to do this because not only is BART an important operational system it's something that we want to expand as the Bay Area continues to grow," Lafayette City Councilmember Don Tatzin said.

Glazer and his supporters want a bargaining process that replaces strike with arbitration as the solution to deadlock. Neither management nor unions are expected to embrace that idea.

Supporters of the ban point out similar laws already exist in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

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BART strike, BART, unions, strike, traffic, transportation, SEIU, ATU, bay area traffic
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