| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Jan 13 Unionized workers in the
United States' fifth-largest commuter rail system overwhelmingly
approved an amended labor agreement on Monday, ending a
nine-month contract dispute that saw two paralyzing transit
strikes and legal wrangling.
Mechanics, custodians, and clerical workers of the roughly
1,400-member Service Employees Union Local 1021 (SEIU) voted 87
percent in favor of the four-year contract, which will take
effect immediately, the labor group said on Monday.
"In California, we believe in workers having a voice in the
workplace in order to improve working conditions and services to
the public," SEIU Executive Director Pete Castelli said in a
The SEIU was the last group to vote on the deal. Members of
the Amalgamated Transit Union 1555 and the BART Board of
Directors gave approval to the contracts earlier this month.
Under the revised terms, more than 2,000 unionized workers
will see a 15.4 percent wage hike over four years and added
safety provisions in exchange for new contributions to their
pensions - with the amount rising to 4 percent of their pay in
the last year of the contract - and paying more for health
benefits, both sides have said.
It also drops the six weeks of paid family medical leave, a
provision that caused an 11th-hour rift between BART and the
unions, but includes extended bereavement leave and upgraded
employee break rooms, BART said.
One BART agency employee and one contractor were struck and
killed by a train operating on automatic control on Oct. 19 over
the last strike period.
The two sides reached a deal in late October, ending a
four-day employee walkout that caused traffic delays and forced
passengers to miss work and school or be hours late.
It was the second strike since July that crippled a system
that serves more than 400,000 people a day in San Francisco,
Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding suburbs.
Shortly after the unions ratified the agreement, BART said
it had mistakenly agreed to a deal term that would give workers
six weeks of paid family medical leave. The unions sued to
enforce the contract, which they said BART unlawfully reneged
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in San Francisco; Writing by Eric
M. Johnson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)