OAKLAND -- A strike planned for July 4 and 5 at East Bay Regional Park recreation areas has been called off, averting closure or disruption to swimming and boating areas during a blistering heat wave.
"We've averted a strike on the Fourth of July and can assure the public that the regional parks, campgrounds and its water facilities will be open and fully staffed," Robert Doyle, the park district's general manager, said in a news release.
According to the district, the tentative four-year agreement with Local 2428 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, was reached late Monday. It provides 9.5 percent in salary increases over the four years and will pay 100 percent of family medical coverage.
The union agreed that its members will pay an additional 4 percent of their wages toward their employee pension costs, which will bring the district in compliance with the State Pension Reform Act.
According to the district, the union will present the tentative agreement to members Wednesday for a final vote. The new contract would be retroactive to April 1.
The news was exciting for visitors at Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch on Tuesday.
Veronica Pope of Pittsburg, pumped her fist when she heard the strike was off.
And, Marquita and Greg Smith of Antioch, who had planned on taking their three kids back to the park on the Fourth, happily scrapped their alternate plan to go to Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Driving to the city would have cost about $60 in gas money, said Greg Smith. "That's money we can spend on the kids instead; Popsicles, juices, things like that," he said, resting on an ice chest while the kids splashed in the water.
Union leaders also expressed satisfaction that a deal had been struck.
"The strike has been averted," said Cliff Rocha, a park ranger and president of Local 2428. "We didn't want to strike. We sacrificed during the recession. We want to share in the economic recovery."
The union represents some 600 rangers, lifeguards, naturalists, maintenance employees, supervisors, and other workers who operate 65 regional parks in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
News of an averted strike was especially welcome during a week of commute nightmares due to the ongoing BART strike.
"I'm just glad it didn't happen," said Dave Rolen of San Jose, an avid fisherman who was visiting Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore on Tuesday. "It seems like everyone's fighting over money and benefits ... It would've ruined a lot of family vacations."
Dan Folk of Livermore, who frequents Del Valle to kayak, was also relieved.
"I was really happy to hear they reached a settlement," Folk said. "It's always nice to have people reach an agreement without walking out."
Reporters Paul Burgarino and Jeremy Thomas also contributed to this story. Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.