BART officials, union strike tentative deal, ending 4-day strike

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BART officials and unions reached a tentative agreement late Monday evening, bringing a four-day strike to a close and returning the daily commute of about 400,000 riders to normal.

With more than 2,000 employees heading back to work, limited BART service resumed 4 a.m. Tuesday, and full service is expected to be restored in the afternoon.

The tentative agreement prioritizes rider and worker safety, said Des Patten, president of Service Employees International Union 1021’s BART Professional Chapter, in a press conference with unions, management and local politicians.

The parties had already settled economic issues, such as wage increases, pensions and medical coverage, before unions went on strike Friday.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom outside the Downtown Oakland office. “This is a reminder, this weekend, that this is about people, and a lot of people’s lives have been impacted by what’s happened … but mark my word, if there’s any lesson learned, it’s that this can never happen again.”

Details about the agreement will not be released until the union leaders have had a chance to communicate with their members, said BART General Manager Grace Crunican. Members of the unions must vote on and ratify the tentative agreement. The BART Board of Directors must also approve the agreement before it takes effect.

“This offer was more than we wanted to pay, but it is also a new path in terms of our partnership with our workers,” Crunican said.

On Sunday evening, SEIU 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, two unions that represent a majority of BART employees, offered another proposal that allows for new technology at work but prevents changes to work rules that would “lead to unsafe conditions.”

Unions and BART officials had already been heavily debating safety issues when a train accident on a section of track between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations resulted in two BART workers’ deaths Saturday about 1:53 p.m.

One day into the strike, a four-car train, which was operating for training and maintenance purposes, struck and killed two employees, who were later identified as unionized BART employee Christopher Sheppard and outside contractor Laurence Daniels. They had been inspecting what a train worker earlier reported as a dip in the tracks.

The National Transportation Safety Board is heading the investigation into the accident.

According to NTSB Investigator in Charge Jim Southworth, six employees were on the train, which was moving at 60 to 70 miles per hour at the time of the accident. The operator was a trainee and had held other positions with BART, he said at a press conference.

BART employees previously went on strike in July. That strike lasted for four and a half days and ended when union members and BART representatives reached a temporary 30-day agreement. After the 30 days, another BART strike was narrowly averted when Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in and requested a 60-day cooling-off period.

Daphne Chen is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @dchen_dc.