Golden Gate Bridge workers unions, district reach tentative contract agreement

Two Golden Gate Bridge workers strikes, including one that paralyzed ferry service, failed to move labor negotiations, but the threat of a third strike that would have halted bridge bus service today may have turned the tide, as a tentative agreement was reached Thursday.

The tentative agreement – for which details remain confidential pending votes from all 13 bridge worker unions and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District – came after both sides met for the first time since Teamsters Locals 856 and 665 announced Oct. 9 a planned bus strike. District spokesman Priya Clemens did reveal that “healthcare is an area where a compromise was reached.”

“It was a long day. Nobody took any breaks. Everybody worked very hard to make this compromise happen,” she said Thursday. “This was not just a one-sided concession. Both sides made concessions in order to come to terms and not impact our customers.”

Clemens also credited Gov. Jerry Brown's office for offering counsel and advice.

The district had offered a contract with three-percent wage increases each year for the next three years, but union members claimed that health insurance premium increases would cost two percent in wages. The Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition, which represents the 13 unions, has been at the bargaining table since April and without a contract since July 1.

“This is the first district proposal that we have actually taken to the members for a vote,” said coalition co-chair Alex Tonisson.

As to whether the planned bus strike was the tipping point for concessions, Tonisson said: “I think that the Teamsters going on strike and shutting down bus service is a clear escalation and impacts even more customers; that's just kind of a fact and we'll see what the end result is.”

On a typical weekday, about 22,000 people use the Golden Gate Transit bus service and about 9,000 people use the ferry service, according to the district.

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