Unions sue BART as possible strike looms on horizon

June 25, 2013 11:11:59 AM PDT
BART riders are becoming increasingly worried as the transit agency and its labor unions remain far apart on issues just days before their current contracts expire. Monday, two unions filed a lawsuit against BART.

Leaders of the unions representing BART maintenance workers, station agents and train operators filed an unfair labor practices lawsuit Monday, saying bart refuses to negotiate on safety issues.

BART offcials had not seen the lawsuit, but a spokesperson did have a response.

"We don't need labor negotiations to be about safety; I think it's a smokescreen, it's trying to cover up the fact that they're trying to get a 23 percent pay increase," BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said.

"Its not a smokescreen when you have over 2,400 crimes that have been committed against people over the last three years at five stations," ATU Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said.

The workers have not had a pay increase for four years and want 23 percent over the next four years. BART is offering 4 percent. They have until midnight Sunday to reach an agreement on that and the other hot topics of medical and pension benefits.

The two unions are taking a strike authorization vote on Tuesday.

"We do not want to hurt the public; we want to continue to fight, negotiate with the district and come up with a resolution by the 30th," SEIU Local 1021 President John Arantes said. "It's up to the district if they want to play games or not. We are serious."

"This is crunch time; we're at the point now where we're ready to go for 24-7 in order for a deal to be made by the end of this contract," BART Assistant General Manager of Operations Paul Oversier said.

The MTC and other transit agencies are planning for a possible BART strike. But that won't help much because there aren't enough spare seats to absorb the 400,000 people who ride BART every day.

"All commuters, whether you ride BART or not, if there is a strike, the impact is going to be extreme," MTC spokesperson John Goodwin said.

There will be no negotiations Tuesday during the strike authorization vote. It's expected to take all day.

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