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BART's largest union votes on management's offer

Train operators turn down contract offer, 2nd union voting today

Members of BART's largest union are voting today on management's contract offer, which the transit agency's second-largest union has already rejected unanimously.

Members of the BART chapter of Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 1,400 mechanics, custodians,

safety inspectors and clerical employees, are voting at the Oakland City Center Marriott until 8 p.m. today. Results are expected sometime after that.

It appears unlikely that Local 1021 members will approve the contract in the wake of Tuesday's vote by members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers.

ATU Local 1555 President Jesse Hunt said about three-quarters of his members participated in the vote and that all of them cast "no" votes.

However, SEIU Local 1021 spokesman Carlos Rivera declined to predict the outcome of his union's vote, saying its leaders "want to let the membership decide."

There are three other BART unions, but none of them have scheduled votes so far.

Jean Hamilton, the president of BART's third-largest union, Local 3993 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 200 middle managers, said she hasn't scheduled a vote for her members because she needs to get more information from management.

Members of ATU Local 1555, SEIU Local 1021 and AFSCME Local 3993 all voted overwhelmingly last month to approve a strike if a settlement isn't

reached on a new contract. However, union leaders haven't yet called for a strike and say they want to continue negotiations with management.

There are two small unions that represent BART police officers and managers but they're barred from going on strike.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said that if SEIU Local 1021 members approve the contract, BART's board would approve and implement the contract

with that union and continue negotiating with the other unions.

Johnson said the most likely next step in the negotiating process, which began April 1, is that contract talks will resume Monday afternoon.

Johnson said BART's management believes its contract offer is responsible because it saves $100 million in labor costs as part of its effort to deal with its large budget deficit, which is now estimated to be $310 million over the next four years.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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