Relief for BART riders now that the strike is over does not end with the return of their normal commute.
Under the new contract offer currently being considered by the unions, the transit agency's bathrooms at 12 underground stations – closed since 9/11 – might operate again.
Striking workers returned to their jobs Tuesday following a four-day work stoppage – the second of 2013 following a 4½-day July strike – under a still-tentative labor agreement hammered out with management.
BART officials are barred from talking about the four-year deal until it's finalized – the union vote is slated for Nov. 1 — but some specifics trickled out Thursday.
From the moment negotiations began April 1, BART management pushed for more money from workers to pay for medical and retirement benefits. Workers in turn asked for higher raises and changes to a workplace environment they often described as “unsafe.”
Both got what they wanted – to a degree.
BART's budget for labor, about $402 million out of a $1.6 billion annual budget, will increase, with workers scheduled to receive their first pay bump toward a 15.38 percent gross raise Jan. 1.
They'll also contribute 4 percent of their checks toward pensions by 2017, and pay $132 a month for health care – up from 0 percent and $95, respectively, according to BART financial records.
Workers will receive lifetime health benefits after 15 years on the job – not five – and the controversial practice of workers calling in sick on a regularly scheduled workday and then collecting overtime by working a scheduled day off is over.
And a dispute over work rules – which led to the second strike – appears to have been resolved. BART can now introduce new technology to jobs with a 30-day notice and appropriate training, and workers have say over changes to their schedule.
Bulletproof glass will be installed at station agent booths at 15 stations, and workers will be able to receive up to $950 a year to cover language classes.
Union leaders also tout concessions on workplace safety, a central issue earlier in negotiations that became salient following the deaths Saturday of a BART union worker and a contractor on tracks in Walnut Creek.
Alerts of workplace hazards will now be filed digitally, and the district will examine installing better lighting and possibly reopening those bathrooms.
The deal still must be approved by union members.
BART lifts ban on bikes
BART's ban on bicycles is over.
The transit agency's board of directors voted Thursday to lift almost all rules prohibiting bikes on its trains starting Dec. 1, when they will be allowed on every train during all hours of operation.
Bikes will remain banned from overcrowded cars and the first car of any train, and from the first three cars of trains during peak commute times — 7 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays.
BART's rules on bicycle access were last updated in 1999. Rider acceptance of bikes on trains during several pilot programs – even during the busiest times – and the growing popularity of commuting by bicycle were seen as reasons for the change.
Officials promised to crack down on cyclists using escalators to carry bicycles aboveground.
The policy may be altered once BART ridership exceeds 450,000 daily boardings.