Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ATU membership approves four-year BART agreement

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Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 voted to approve the four-year tentative agreement that their leaders and BART negotiators reached on August 16. 

"We're extremely pleased with the vote," BART Board of Directors President Thomas M. Blalock said. "ATU members showed today they are willing to join their colleagues in SEIU and AFSCME in helping to address the difficult financial challenges facing the District."

The tentative agreement, along with agreements already approved by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, provides these three unions' share of achieving the Board's goal of cutting $100 million in labor costs over four years. BART is working to eliminate an estimated $310-million, four-year deficit amid a decline in ridership, state transit funding and sales tax revenue.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by the BART Board of Directors before taking effect.  In general, the agreement:

• Covers four years.

• Caps BART's medical costs, but still provides full-family medical coverage for $85/month.

• Suspends BART's contributions to secondary retirement accounts.

• Eliminates wasteful work rules to provide greater flexibility in Station Agent and Foreworker assignments, modifies Train Operator shuttle break language, reduces union business leave and modifies beneficial past practices and grievance procedures.

• The District and interested bargaining units will join in studying the feasibility of extending the eligibility for retiree medical benefits to 15 years for new hires through a change in legislation. If the legislation is amended and all parties agree to the 15-year eligibility schedule, and if the schedule saves the District money, the parties agree to discuss allocation of savings including potential allocation to wage increases.

• Freezes base salaries and provides lump sum payments of $500 in FY2011, $1,000 in FY2012, and $1,500 in FY2013.

BART's Board of Directors is expected to vote on the contract at its next regularly scheduled September meeting.

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