East Bay News
BART negotiating with all five of its unions to avoid strike
OAKLAND, Calif. -- We're just ten days away from a possible BART strike. The transit agency is negotiating with all five of its unions and so far, not so good.
The unions vote next Tuesday on whether or not to authorize a strike. But most of the commuters we spoke to are either unfazed or unaware their commute could come to a sudden halt on July 1.
When asked if she's worried there's going to be a strike, commuter Ramasri Upabhyayula said, "Uh, don't know about it."
Fellow commuter Sue Gardner added, "Seems to me that in years past there's always been that late last minute negotiation and we all sweat it out and share emails and everything and it all sorts itself out. So actually I haven't been worried yet."
On Thursday morning, BART started a new campaign encouraging drivers to "Dump the Pump" by leaving their cars at home and taking public transportation instead.
Union workers quickly took advantage of the high profile campaign by handing out leaflets to commuters, warning of a possible strike on July 1 if they don't receive pay increases and better protection.
"The membership from the surveys we did in the beginning basically wants the status quo and a modest raise which we haven't gotten in a while, and we're happy," SEIU bargaining team member James Riddle said.
All five unions are asking for a five percent raise over three years and new measures to prevent incidents like the one in which a deranged, naked man harassed commuters last week at the 16th Street Mission BART Station.
Meanwhile, BART desperately needs to overhaul its trains and facilities. So it's asking workers to chip in to their pensions for the first time, and pay about $92 a month for medical insurance.
"Well, right now all signs do lead to a strike," BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said. "But we still have next week, we have those mediators at the table, let's hope we can get some compromise from both sides and get this done before any sort of work stoppage."
Bart hasn't had a strike and major traffic congestion since 1997. But so far, the negotiations this time around have been characterized as nasty and slow moving.
oakland, BART, unions, strike, health care, transportation, east bay news, alan wang
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