The head of BART's second-largest union said yesterday he believes that union members will approve the tentative contract agreement reached with BART management on Sunday night that headed off a potentially devastating strike.
Jesse Hunt, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, said his union will vote next Monday or Tuesday, with the date to be set later today.
Members of ATU Local 1555 voted by a two-to-one margin last Monday to reject a previous tentative agreement that had been reached on July 31.
The members of two other unions, including BART's largest union, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents about 1,500 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, voted to approve the tentative agreement.
On Thursday afternoon, Hunt announced that his union would strike after BART service ended Sunday night. His announcement came several hours after BART board members voted 9-0 to impose pay and work rules on the union.
BART spokesman Linton Johnson alleged on Friday that ATU Local 1555 leaders had represented the first tentative agreement negatively to union members.
Johnson gave reporters a copy of a letter that Hunt sent to his members on July 31 saying that management's offer was "ugly" and its "downsides are obvious."
Asked today by reporters what he will tell his members about the new tentative agreement, Hunt said, "The contract will speak for itself; it's fair and equitable and we support it."
Hunt said the agreement is for four years -- even though he had been seeking a two-year contract -- and doesn't call for any layoffs, although jobs will be lost over time due to "natural attrition."
He declined to provide additional details about the new agreement, saying he still needs to brief union members.
Members of SEIU Local 1021 and American Federation of Local, State and Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers, voted last week to approve the initial tentative agreement but their leaders said they would have respected picket lines if ATU Local 1555 had gone on strike.
BART general manager Dorothy Dugger said Sunday night that the new tentative agreement helps achieve management's goal of saving $100 million in labor costs over the next four years to help deal with its projected $310 million budget shortfall in that time span.
Hunt said today that the new, tougher pay and work rules that BART had imposed on union members Thursday were suspended when the tentative agreement was reached Sunday night.