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Rail News: Passenger Rail

BART, ATU reach 11th-hour agreement and avert strike

Hours before Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)-represented workers were set to walk off the job at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) yesterday, the union and transit agency reached a new tentative four-year agreement.

On Thursday, the ATU — which represents about 900 BART train operators and station agents — announced plans to launch a strike at the close of transit service on Sunday night after BART’s board voted to impose employment terms on the workers because ATU members rejected a previously proposed four-year pact.

BART is trying to eliminate an estimated $310 million four-year budget deficit amid declining ridership, state transit funding and sales tax revenue. The agency’s board had set a target of $100 million in labor-cost savings over the next four years and sought labor agreements in line with that goal — something BART already had accomplished with the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“If the membership ratifies it, this new tentative [ATU] agreement will help put BART on a more solid financial footing by reducing the cost of benefits and making work rules more efficient,” said BART President Thomas Blalock in a prepared statement.

The new tentative agreement is “equitable to our membership," said ATU President Jesse Hunt.

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More News from 8/17/2009