Update: BART Closed as Unions Declare Strike

By Brian Shields

Sun Jun 30th, 2013 8:35pm America/Los_Angeles

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OAKLAND (KRON) — You won’t be taking BART to work Monday morning now that the two unions representing workers have gone on strike.

Amalgamated Transit Union Spokeswoman Antonette Bryant, surrounded by union members carrying signs reading “On Strike” announced the job action just after midnight Monday morning.

“It’s with regret that we announce that we are officially on strike,” Bryant told reporters after the midnight deadline had passed. “We apologize to the riding public for the lack of sensitivity of the Board of Directors and BART management not to take into account the impact this strike will have on the Bay Area and the public.”

The announcement came just more than three hours after the two sides walked away from a last round of talks designed to avert a stoppage.

SEIU Local 1021 officials also declared the strike.

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BART says it had increased it’s salary offer from a 4% raise to an 8% raise, two percent per year over the course of the contract. Union officials are asking for a 4% per year increase and say the new proposal would amount to only a dollar a year effective raise for most BART workers.

Employee contributions to health care and pension as well as safety issues are also sources of disagreement.

“While we do not have official word from the unions about a strike we must caution riders that a strike may commence after the end of regularly scheduled service today,” BART Spokesman Rick Rice said in a written statement after the talks broke down. ““We have a long way to go but we can’t get any closer if we aren’t at the table. We reached tentative agreements on 11 items today and we should use that momentum to reach a deal. Walking away doesn’t do any good. The public doesn’t deserve to be punished. We are sorry they have decided to strike despite the fact we are willing to negotiate. The District is prepared to return to talks and get this finished. We would have worked all night long.”

The unions blame BART for the breakdown in talks.

“BART management threw in the towel tonight and pushed away from the bargaining table hours before the expiration of union contracts,” officials for SEIU local 1021 said in a written statement. “SEIU members are still here and available to meet with BART management until contracts expire at midnight. Our workers do not want a strike, but they cannot continue to work in conditions that are unsafe for workers and riders. We continue to hope that BART will negotiate in good faith and adequately address critical safety, staffing, and pay issues before midnight. Management pushed away from the table tonight. We sat at the table for 10 hours on Saturday without any new proposals from BART management. We offered a cost-saving plan that would have cut the District’s retiree medical costs by $30 million that produced no response. We declined a proposal that attempted to divide the two largest BART unions on economic issues. Throughout, we were frustrated that we couldn’t get answers to questions and costing for proposals because key BART managers weren’t at work over the weekend.

A.C. Transit talks with its workers continue. There is no strike and the buses are running Monday.

Sunday’s BART talks started out on a contentious note.

BART Strike – Other Resources

BART Official Site
BART Management Strike Info
SEIU Local 1021
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555
511.org Transit Info
Muni
AC Transit
Golden Gate Transit
San Francisco Bay Ferries
Caltrain
San Francisco Casual Carpool
Casual Carpool News and Locations

“We’re very far apart, we’re very far apart,” ATU spokesman Leo Ruiz said going into Sunday’s negotiations. “We’re coming to meet because we’ve never given up. The District gave up on us. We were at the table for a day and a half, a day and a half! The District never showed up during that day and a half. We’re still very far apart. They should have been at the table every minute.”

“We don’t want to drag the Bay Area into this,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said before the talks broke down. “Let’s not make the commuters suffer. This is about BART labor, why make it about the Bay Area? People need to get to work tomorrow and we want to make sure they have a way to get to work. The clock is ticking. We’re hoping we can get a deal or at least extend the talks, that’s still an option. We’re hoping that’s what can happen by midnight.”

Stay tuned to KRON 4 and KRON4.com for comprehensive coverage of the BART Strike Threat.

(Copyright 2013, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)

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