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BART board approves labor agreements

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Almost six months after contract negotiations between BART and its five unions began, transit agency officials on Thursday formally approved contract agreements with two, finally ending a process that at one point reached the brink of a labor strike.

By unanimously agreeing to ratify the collective bargaining agreement with two unions — Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993 — the BART board of directors ensured no strike would take place. The transit agency serves an average of about 340,000 riders each weekday.

Less than a month ago, Bay Area commuters were on high alert as contract negotiations broke down between BART and Local 1555, which represents about 900 station agents and train operators.

Contract talks began April 1 and after four months of negotiations, the three largest unions reached a tentative agreement with management July 31. But, members of Local 1555 voted against it by a margin of 2-1.

After additional talks failed to produce an agreement, BART directors voted unanimously Aug. 13 to impose pay and work rules on the union. However, last-minute negotiations averted a strike and Thursday’s contract ratification finalized the matter.

Also Aug. 13, BART directors voted to approve a contract with Service Employees International Union Local 1021. The transit agency is also still in negotiations with two police unions, but those groups are legally forbidden from striking.

All the contracts are four years long.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com