BART unions decline to give 72-hour strike notice

October 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Labor leaders for Bay Area Rapid Transit workers say they are not giving 72-hour notice for a second strike.

Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, and members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 said Monday they are not giving notice because they want to leave every possible option for resolution open.

The notice is customary but not required, and BART workers could still strike Friday when a 60-day cooling-off period expires.

BART spokesman Jim Allison says officials are working hard trying to reach a settlement.

BART officials have said they are about $89 million apart from a four-year contract with the unions, while the unions say the gap is about $30 million over three years.

BART workers walked off the job for four-and-a-half days in July, but a strike in October could be much worse. Planning for a possible strike began weeks ago, but extra buses or even skeleton service could not make up for the backbone of the Bay Area transit system.

While publicly expressing optimism, behind the scenes, BART is getting ready for a strike that could be much more challenging for Bay Area commuters, than the last one, that includes chartering 200 busses to carry riders from nine East Bay cities to San Francisco, more than double the number used in July.

"This is just a drop in the bucket from what BART normally carries, so we want everyone to understand, these busses are for those who absolutely need it the most," BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said.

BART paid $900,000 in deposits for the first week of service, money that would be reimbursed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission if there is no strike. Beyond that, BART has 12 managers already certified to operate a skeleton transbay service if there's a strike, but there are no immediate plans to do that. Other managers were training on a set of cars in a hanger in Vallejo, but that effort has now moved to the classroom.

Like last time, the San Francisco Bay Ferry service is planning to temporarily increase its fleet.

"During the last strike, we were able to carry about 19,500 customers on one day and for a service that normally carries about 6,000, that's quite a few," ferry spokesperson Ernest Sanchez said.

The ferries will be there, but AC Transit may not since its unions have now rejected a second contract proposal.

"The prospect of an AC Transit strike alone of course is serious," MTC spokesperson John Goodwin said. "The prospect of a BART strike alone is very serious. Put the two together and it's terrible."

Casual carpooling is another fallback for BART riders or those not wanting to wing it at the curb can check out several online rideshare sites to coordinate a ride, including Uber, Sidecar, Carma and Lyft.

The Associated Press and ABC7 News reporters Laura Anthony and Heather Ishimaru contributed to this report.


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