Tuesday Strike Vote Called for BART Unions | NBC Bay Area

Tuesday Strike Vote Called for BART Unions

Riders can breath easier now that vote has been called

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Riders facing their own cuts as workers also sarifice some benefits

    Members of BART's two biggest labor unions will vote this week on  a contract offer that management says is fair but union leaders haven't  endorsed because they say it isn't very good.
     
    Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents  about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, will vote on  Tuesday.

    Members of the BART chapter of Local 1021 of the Service Employees  International Union, which represents about 1,400 mechanics, custodians,  safety inspectors and clerical employees, will vote on Thursday.

    Jean Hamilton, the president of Local 3993 of the American  Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about  200 middle managers, said today that she isn't ready to take the offer to her  members because she needs more information about costs and other details.

    Hamilton said she will meet with BART management on Monday to try  to get the information she needs. She said if she decides to take the offer  to her members she will arrange for them to vote by next Thursday.

    BART management made the offer late Thursday night on the 99th day  of its negotiations, shortly before the unions' four-year contract expired.  Union members will work without a contract until they vote on the proposed  new contract.

    BART spokesman Linton Johnson said today that management believes  its offer "is a good offer, especially in these hard economic times."

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    Although the proposed contract calls for employees to pick up more  of the cost for their health care and retirement benefits, Johnson said it  doesn't call for any salary reductions.

    He said the contract calls for a wage freeze for three years  followed by a small increase in the fourth year.

    Johnson said the contract achieves management's priorities of  saving $100 million in labor costs and eliminating wasteful and unproductive  work rules.

    Management said throughout the negotiating process that it wants  to reduce its labor costs because it faces a projected $250 million budget  deficit over the next four years.

    General Manager Dorothy Dugger upped the ante on Thursday by  saying that new estimates, based on declining ridership and sales tax  revenues, indicate that the four-year deficit could even be $60 million  larger, for a total shortfall of $310 million over that period.

    ATU Local 1555 President Jesse Hunt said that even though he  doesn't think management's proposal is a good offer but he's asking his  members to vote on it "to let the democratic process have its say."

    SEIU Local 1021 chief negotiator Larry Gerber said late Thursday  that management's proposal "is not very good" but he wants his members to  have a chance to vote on it.

    Hunt and Gerber both said they're presenting the offer to their  members without a recommendation.

    Gerber said if union members vote to reject the contract, union  leaders will then ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to declare a 60-day cooling off  period.

    Johnson said BART directors sent a letter to the governor last  month asking him not to grant a cooling-off period. He said he hopes that  union leaders would return to the bargaining table if their members vote  against the proposed contract.

    However, a strike would be possible because BART's three biggest  unions all voted by overwhelming margins last month to authorize a strike.

    There also are two small unions that represent BART police  officers and managers.

    However, members of the police unions are barred from going on  strike.