Labor deal steers clear of AC Transit strike

The thousands of people who ride AC Transit buses every day can breathe a sigh of relief.

Less than an hour before a midnight strike deadline, transit officials and labor leaders announced they had reached a tentative deal to keep union workers on the job and the buses rolling.

The late deal came after AC Transit board members met behind closed doors Tuesday evening and representatives for both sides negotiated into the night.

Officials with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 say they agreed on a contract that gives workers a 9.5 percent salary increase over three years. Before hammering out the final agreement, union officials had been seeking a 9.75 percent increase, while AC Transit officials were offering a 9 percent raise.

In announcing the deal, union president Yvonne Williams said:

“This agreement protects workers, helps riders, and keeps service running.”

Union members will vote on the contract later this month.

After the deal was announced, AC Transit general manager David Armijo said in a statement:

“This was a long and often intense negotiation and there are no winners or losers in its outcome.  We are happy we were able to get through the process without any disruption in service.”

The agreement comes after the union which represents the transit district’s drivers, mechanics and dispatchers delivered a notice on Monday saying union workers would be walking off the job is they didn’t have a deal by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

If there had been a strike the 180,000 passengers AC Transit carries every day — mostly in the East Bay and from the East Bay into San Francisco —  would have had to find other ways to get around.

The agreement between the district and its union will help ease the pain a bit if BART workers go on strike next week.

The second BART shutdown of the summer was barely averted when Governor Jerry Brown stepped in at almost the last minute late Sunday before a strike deadline and appointed a board to conduct a seven-day investigation into the negotiations between BART managers and its unions.

While the investigation is being conducted, a strike by BART employees is prohibited.