BART management and union leaders reached a tentative agreement on Sunday evening, thereby averting a crippling transit strike that the union had threatened for this morning, according to the Chron. The deal with the train operators and station agents saves BART about $38 million, and allows the agency to meet its goal of slashing $100 million in employee costs for all of its unions, according to the Trib. The deal also is for four years, not two years as the union wanted. It will be interesting to see whether the union's rank-and-file members will approve the agreement, after they overwhelmingly turned down a similar one last week.
BART management deserves credit for hanging tough and refusing to capitulate to the union's demands. Governor Schwarzenegger also should get a nod for refusing to call for the 60-day cooling off period that the union clearly wanted. The governor's hard-line stance forced the union to back up its strike threat or go back to the bargaining table. The union leadership also deserves credit for working hard for a second deal, especially after the train operators and station agents turned down the perfectly reasonable first one.
And finally, Bay Area politicians like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom deserve a shout out for staying out of the contract talks. Clearly, the union was hoping for a repeat of 2001 when then mayors Willie Brown of San Francisco and Jerry Brown of Oakland inserted themselves in the process and the train operators and station agents walked away with a 22 percent raise over four years.
And finally, we're glad to hear that BART Police Chief Gary Gee is retiring at the end of the year, following the board of director's decision to limit his authority. Gee clearly mishandled the investigation and aftermath of the New Year's fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, and it's time that BART police got some new leadership.