Strike Averted; Commuter Fears Alleviated
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A tentative contract agreement averted a strike by 1,200 Bay Area Rapid Transit workers today, allowing thousands of commuters to get to work on time.
″Both sides compromised and compromised, and then we met - sort of happily - in the middle,″ said Suzanne Angeli, vice president of Public Employees Union Local 790, which represents janitors, mechanics and clerks.
A ratification vote was set for Wednesday, and union leaders predicted approval.
The key money issue in the contract dispute was whether BART or its employees should benefit from an estimated $10 million-a-year windfall from investments from the Public Employees Retirement System, to which BART contributes.
The old contract required the turning over of profits to the workers. BART wanted two-thirds of the money to go toward operations.
The tentative agreement announced Sunday calls for the profits to be used for three years to finance medical insurance for retired employees. The union agreed that members also would pay $15 per month toward the retirees’ benefit.
″We’re happy. They’re happy,″ said BART spokesman Mike Healy.
Local 790, which had been working without a contract since June, had set a strike time of 12:01 a.m. today. Local 1555 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 500 station agents and train operators, had promised to honor picket lines.
The district had hoped to offer about half the normal train service, but only during certain hours of the day.
Many of the 100,000 people who ride the 71-mile system to work and back each weekday had spent much of the weekend trying to find alternative ways to get to their jobs. At least one was set to go sailing - to work.
″I’m planning to sail my boat to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, let my wife sail the bay the rest of the day, and then have her pick us up after work,″ said Don Ravetti of Berkeley before the strike settlement was announced.