Bay Area Traffic

Unions give BART 72 hour strike notice

Thursday, June 27, 2013
union workers In this Aug. 26, 2011 photo, commuters get onboard a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train at the Civic Center stop in San Francisco. AC Transit bus BART/Caltrain sign BART union workers hold signs

The unions gave BART a 72 hour notice that they will strike unless a contract agreement is reached by Sunday night.

The unions say they will still negotiate in good faith. Talks will resume on Friday at 11 a.m. If an agreement is not made, there will be a strike Monday morning. Union officials are expected to give an update on negotiations at a Friday 10 a.m. news conference.

BART offered its union workers a 1 percent raise each year for the next four years.

"Obviously it's a big difference and probably not received very well," said BART spokesperson Rick Rice.

Especially because the unions are asking for a 5 percent pay raise each year.

"It's time the district takes us serious, gets to the table and stop playing games," said John Arantes, the president of SEIU Local 1021.

Negotiations on Thursday at the Kaiser Center in Oakland broke around 4:30 p.m. They resumed talks in the evening around 7 p.m. and broke off talks again around 10:30 p.m.

In the afternoon the ATU said it was a little too early to react to BART's latest offer because they were still pouring over the details. Although they did say they were still frustrated by what they called BART's "rubber budget numbers."

BART started the day briefing reporters about a new offer on wages, medical, and pension benefits. "Hopefully, this'll give us some more progress, something to talk about. I'm not going to get into specifics. We're going to negotiate in the room, but we are putting a proposal on that moves our position closer to theirs," said BART spokesman Rick Rice.

Worker and passenger safety has been another top union concern. BART has refused to include that area in contract talks, until Thursday. It has now put two safety issues in its offer, but also said it addresses security concerns year-round and as an example, exhibited a new street escalator canopy cover that will be tested in Oakland. It can be locked to prevent transients from using the escalator as a home and a restroom.

"It's a perfect example of how we work with our unions. We take a look. We see that there's a problem and we fix it," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.

ATU negotiator Leo Ruiz spoke to ABC7 News before he had a chance to see BART's two new safety proposals. "The only real thing that they talked about actually doing is buying that canopy for $2.15 million that's going protect an escalator. It's not going to protect the agents at Richmond. It's not going to protect the agents at Coliseum. It's not going to protect the patrons anywhere," he said.

Both sides are saying the last thing they want is a strike. Commuters hope they mean it. "Devastating. I mean it would take me longer... AC Transit, you know. I would hate if they did go on strike," BART rider Clifford Snead said.

And, there's no guarantee AC Transit will be there for riders as their contract also expires Sunday night and their workers union has also authorized a strike.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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oakland, BART, unions, strike, transportation, lawsuit, bay area traffic
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