Related Stories

OAKLAND -- BART management and its two largest unions have finally given Bay Area commuters the news they've been waiting several months to hear -- trains will almost certainly run uninterrupted for at least the next four years.

The unions Friday voted to approve a four-year contract that ended a strike.

BART's board of directors must still ratify the contract and is expected to do so when it next meets. The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21, but BART spokesman Jim Allison said Saturday the board likely will call a special meeting to vote the week of Nov. 10.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 155 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 announced the results of their vote late Friday after polls closed at 10 p.m. The unions represent train operators, station agents, maintenance workers and others.

One more union, the AFSCME Local 3993, still must ratify the agreement. Calls and emails to the union were not returned Saturday, but the local is expected to approve the contract.

Antonette Bryant, president of the ATU local, said members of her union voted overwhelmingly to approve the agreement but said she wasn't sure whether a settlement will start the healing process between the two sides. The deal, which includes a standard no-strike clause, will expire in June 2017.

"I have mixed feelings," Bryant said. "We can't forget that two workers died in a tragedy during this whole process, and many of us feel that it should've never come to that. So I don't know how that will play out."

BART workers walked out on their jobs twice during negotiations, the second time last month. During that four-day shutdown, BART employee Christopher Sheppard and rail consultant Laurence Daniels were struck and killed while doing work on the tracks between the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek stations. A trainee was operating the train that hit the two workers, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The contract calls for a pay increase of 16.4 percent over four years, with bonuses of up to $1,000 annually when BART ridership exceeds expectations. Union members made an average of $76,500 in gross pay last year.

If the contract is approved by the BART board, workers will begin paying into their pensions for the first time, with contributions reaching 4 percent of their pay by 2017. Monthly health care contributions will rise from about $92 to $129.

"The Bay Area and our riders will benefit from these contracts because BART will be able to move forward with the replacement of our aging fleet of train cars and the needed upgrades to meet demand," BART General Manager Grace Crunican said. "BART was able to gain the reforms it has sought for years and will have a positive impact on our ability to manage the system and improve service for our customers."

BART said the new agreement will give the agency better control over scheduling, attendance and preventing overtime abuse. It also said the agreement will allow for improvements in technology and equipment used to run the system.

Union workers shut down the train system for 4½ days in July after their old contract, which also included a no-strike clause, expired at the end of June. After a cooling-off period, the workers went back on strike for four days starting Oct. 18 before union and BART leaders agreed to the tentative deal that got trains running again Oct. 22.

Since then, lawyers have hammered out the final contract details, and workers have met with union representatives to review the details.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/rosenbergmerc.