BART Union Will Take Offer For Vote

Union rep says she expects contact to be rejected

 The president of one of the two unions involved in the BART strike says she will take the final contract offer to members for a vote, but expects it will be rejected.

Antonette Bryant said Saturday that she was unsure how long it will take to get the proposal into the hands of the 900 workers represented by ATU 1555. She said she expects the vote to be "a resounding no." 

 "We are going to vote that contract, but we know that our members are going to vote it down," Bryant said.

The strike implications took a back seat Saturday afternoon when a BART train struck and killed two BART workers.

BART officials said in a statement that the manager who was operating the train was an  "experienced operator,'' and the four-car train was being run in automatic mode under computer control at the time of the accident. 
Officials from the unions representing BART's train operators and some of the system's other workers have warned of the danger that could come with allowing managers to operate trains. One of the unions on strike, Amalgamated Transit Union 1555, announced that its 900 workers would not be picketing on Sunday out of respect for the victims and their families.

That would put any vote on the contract proposal to Monday at the earliest. The latest contract proposal, includes an updated economic package and changes to work rules and past workplace practices.

MORE: BART Strike Resource Guide

Bryant used a news conference at the Pittsburg/Bay Point station prior to the fatal crash to convince the public that workers' demands are not unreasonable.

Some of the approximately 200,000 people whom rely on the transportation system daily have become hostile on social media since their commutes were disrupted Friday morning. The SEUI also represents workers and made no statement about a vote.

An open letter from ATU Local 1555 to Bay Area commuters states that the union attempted for six months to reach an agreement with BART management. "BART has fought us every step of the way," the letter reads.

"In the past 24 hours, BART even backtracked on agreements we jointly made at the negotiating table. Then, they gave a take it or leave it offer that amounts to a 1 percent or less raise for our members over four years."

The letter also notes that the union "will be ready to negotiate any day, any time." 

However, Bryant said there have been no new bargaining sessions scheduled between the unions and BART management since talks broke down and BART workers walked off the job on Friday morning.

BART workers are holding picket lines at the West Oakland BART station in addition to the Pittsburg/Bay Point station, ATU representatives said.

The first day of the BART strike was Friday and it saw a noticeable increase in traffic on Bay Area highways, according to Caltrans who actually counted the cars.

Caltrans said the worst congestion happened on the highway leading to the Bay Bridge. Delays increased about 30 percent above normal in the morning commute.

The highest overall increase was a 50 percent increase on Interstate 80 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties and at the height of the morning, just is 7 a.m., delays on Interstates 580 and 880 were twice as high as normal.

People who had to fight traffic or find another way to work Friday were fed up with the strike, even though it was in its first day.

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates a strike will conservatively cost the Bay Area $73 million a day in lost worker productivity.

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