BART Union Leaders Worried BART Workers Will Reject Concession Contract

BART Union Leaders Worried BART Workers Will Reject Concession Contract
Split ticket: One of the behind-the-scenes complications of the BART labor talks is the fear that, even if negotiators reach a deal before the Thursday night strike deadline, the rank and file will reject it.

Just look at AC Transit, where drivers rejected a 9.6 percent raise over three years that their leadership had worked out with management.

Yvonne Williams, leader of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, suspects the rejection had to do with changes in employees' health care contributions.

"We are a progressive union," Williams said, "and while the changes would have saved some people money, it would have cost others more."

Health care costs are a key issue in the BART talks as well. Privately, both sides in those negotiations tell us they don't have much room left to move.

After a series of take-backs during the recession, workers' expectations for big raises are "really high," said one BART union negotiator, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

On the other side, BART directors - who ultimately have to answer to the public - are keenly aware of the recent poll that found 63 percent of Bay Area residents surveyed thought the workers should accept the agency's latest offer.

The poll was paid for by the business boosters at the Bay Area Council, which called for public support to "hold the line on the BART board's latest offer of a 10 percent raise."