Deal averts strike, keeps Caltrain open

A strike that could have derailed Caltrain service has likely been avoided.

Amtrak reached a preliminary deal Friday that apparently heavily favors the railroad’s nine unions, who have worked for years without a contract.

Caltrain would have completely shut down on Jan. 30 if there had been no deal reached, and service between San Francisco and San Jose would have come to a halt.

Amtrak, which has never had workers walk out in the railroad’s 36-year history, supplies all of the operating employees for Caltrain — about 350 union members such as engineers and conductors. Only management for the commuter line is not employed through Amtrak.

“We have averted a possible strike that could have had a crippling effect on the lives of millions of Americans,” Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant said in a news release.

A shutdown of Caltrain would have forced the nearly 40,000 daily riders to either use other transit services, such as BART or SamTrans, or drive. The California Highway Patrol had said the roads most impacted would be U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate Highway 280.

On a weekday on Highway 101, 199,000 cars drive through the freeway in San Mateo County; 156,500 cars in San Francisco, according to Caltrans figures. Roughly 121,000 cars drive through I-280 on a weekday in the county compared with 97,500 in The City.

Details of the deal will not be released until it is ratified by affected union members, Amtrak said. spokesman Cliff Black said there appears to be a “pretty universal feeling” that the agreement will be ratified.

People familiar with the labor agreement, some speaking on condition of anonymity because the details had not been formally announced, said it adopts the recommendations of a presidential emergency board report issued Dec. 30.

— Wire and staff report

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