BART's largest labor union announced today that its members have approved a proposed contract agreement by approximately a three-to-one majority. Lisa Isler, president of the BART chapter of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said members voted 731 in favor and 253 against approving a contract reached between the transit agency and three unions on July 31. The union represents a total of about 1,500 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors, clerical employees and track workers. Isler said, "We are pleased with the vote. We're just happy not to have this hanging over our heads any longer." Union spokesman Carlos Rivera said the contract provides for no layoffs or furloughs, no wage cuts and no raises for the next four years. The two other unions, representing transit operators and middle-level managers, have yet to ratify the pact. They are scheduled to complete their votes tonight and Tuesday night. BART officials say the contract is needed to help the agency cope with a projected $310 million deficit in the next four years by reducing labor costs by $100 million. BART spokesman Linton Johnson said, "We're pleased that the members approved the agreement and recognized the economic reality facing BART." The previous contract expired July 9 and employees have been working without a contract since then. Members of the three unions voted in June to authorize a strike, but never set a strike date. The SEIU voting began Thursday and was extended until this afternoon. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, are scheduled to complete voting on the contract tonight. Members of the American Federation of Local, State and Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers, are due to vote on Tuesday. Johnson said that if the other two unions approve the proposed contract, the agency's board of directors will then meet to hold its own vote on the agreement. The tentative agreement was reached on July 31 in a marathon 27-hour session that culminated a lengthy bargaining process that began on April 1.
The possibility of a BART strike still looms here in the Bay Area.
Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009 Updated at 8:24 AM PDT