Bay Area commuters Wednesday were spared the pain of a bus strike after a last-minute deal was reached on pay and medical benefits for hundreds of union workers.
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 had threatened to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, shutting down service and leaving 181,000 riders scrambling to find alternative transportation.
The tentative deal reached late Tuesday night includes a 9.5% raise over three years with AC Transit employees making contributions to their healthcare plans. According to a message posted to the union’s Facebook page, the deal also addresses health and safety issues of the employees in the bus district serving the East Bay out of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
AC Transit had proposed a 9% raise over three years, with members paying 10% of their monthly healthcare premiums, to be phased in over three years.
ATU members currently do not contribute to their healthcare plans, according to a spokeswoman for the district.
It was not immediately clear how much of their paychecks ATU members would start contributing toward their healthcare benefits. The deal must be ratified by rank-and-file members later this month.
In a statement, ATU President Yvonne Williams thanked a public already on edge over the BART labor dispute for its patience.
“This agreement protects workers, helps riders and keeps service running,” she said.
The last-minute deal was reached between two sides that largely kept their issues confined to the negotiating table – a stark contrast to the BART labor dispute.
AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson told KTVU it was a credit to both sides “that we were able to negotiate without a lot of grandstanding, and that certainly helped in our effort to get a contract that both sides can live with."
By contrast, Gov. Jerry Brown was asked to intervene late Sunday night to prevent a strike by Bay Area Rapid Transit District workers, which would have stranded an estimated 400,000 passengers who use the system each day.
After preventing the work stoppage, Brown appointed a three-member panel to review the stalemate and report back within seven days. Once that happens, the governor also has the power to ask a judge to order a 60-day cooling-off period.
BART workers are at loggerheads with district officials over pay increases and contributions to healthcare benefits.
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