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Rail News: Passenger Rail

BART's largest unions consider contract proposal; Alabama & Gulf Coast's MOW workers join UTU


Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) two largest labor unions are putting the agency’s latest four-year contract proposal to a vote this week. On Friday, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) opted to present the proposal to their members instead of initiating a strike. ATU and SEIU members will work without a contract for the time being.

The proposal “achieves the objectives we laid out — preserving employee’s base salaries, capping medical costs while still offering full medical care for the entire family and eliminating wasteful work rules that often cause the district to pay excessive overtime,” said BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger in a prepared statement. “It also offers a small wage increase in the last year of the contract funded by savings achieved in this proposal.”

BART has been negotiating contracts with its five labor unions since April 1 to address the agency’s financial challenges. During that time, a four year-deficit projected at $250 million has grown by approximately $60 million because of lower-than-expected ridership and sales tax returns.

During the past few months, BART has adopted measures aimed at cutting costs and increasing revenue by more than $150 million through a 6.1 percent fare increase, the introduction of parking fees at more East Bay stations, and reduced night and weekend service. BART’s board is seeking $100 million in cost savings through labor negotiations to avoid additional fare increases and service cuts.

Meanwhile, Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway maintenance-of-way workers recently chose the United Transportation Union (UTU) as their collective bargaining representative. The short line’s train and engine-service employees already are represented by the UTU.

Owned by RailAmerica Inc., Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway operates more than 400 miles of track, including a mainline from Pensacola, Fla., through eastern Alabama to Columbus, Miss., and a branch line from Mobile to Kimbrough, Ala. The short line interchanges with BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation, CN/Illinois Central Railroad, Kansas City Southern Railway Co. and Norfolk Southern Railway.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/13/2009