Jun 28 2013

Should Piedmonters Expect a BART Strike Monday?

BART unions and management agree to continue talking all weekend, but  union leaders gave a 72-hour strike warning Thursday night.  –

Negotiations on new contracts with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) unions began 89 days ago. On Thursday, BART management and unions met until late into the night. Earlier in the day there was a sense of progress that could head off the threatened strike.

“Facing a Sunday night deadline to reach a deal before the workers’ current contract expires, BART management on Thursday brought to the bargaining table new proposals on pay, health care and pension benefits and safety upgrades. The Service Employees International Union, meanwhile, said it was willing to start paying toward pension plans — a major sticking point thus far — and lengthen the amount of time employees have to work before earning retiree medical benefits.” reported by the  Mercury News

Most Mondays through Fridays Piedmonters find the parking lots at MacArthur and Rockridge BART stations are full by 8:30 a.m.  On Monday, July 1, the lots could be largely empty at 8:30 a.m. if BART’s unions strike at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 30, when contracts expire. The two largest BART unions, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) voted on Tuesday to authorize a strike by 99.9% and 98.5%.  Union leaders now have the authority to order a walk out, if that is their decision.  Negotiations can continue in hopes of avoiding the strike. The unions promised to give BART a 72-hour notice if they call a work stoppage, and gave notice late Thursday night.

Sometimes the Governor stop negotiations for a cooling-off period.  BART management and SEIU leaders expressed opposition to a cooling-off period on Friday.  On June 25 BART Board President Tom Radulovich wrote to Governor Jerry Brown, asking that the 60-daycooling off period not be invoked:

“We are committed to reaching a final settlement by that date (June 30). However, if an agreement is not reached, we ask that you not grant a 60-day cooling-off period should union leaders request one.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission warns:

Contracts between BART and several of its unions expire at 11:59 p.m. on June 30. If BART and its workers are unable to reach agreement, there is a possibility that BART service could be stopped as early as July 1. BART normally serves more than 400,000 people per day, so a strike could have a huge impact on the regional transportation system.

In the event of a BART strike, drivers should expect very heavy traffic, much longer travel times, extended metered light periods to enter the San Rafael and Bay Bridge. Lines to these bridges extended more than a mile during the last BART strike in 1997.

If there is a BART strike, it’s impact could be magnified by AC Transit. The AC Transit Union’s contract also expires Sunday evening and last week 97.4% of those participating, voted in favor of a strike.  Oakland city employee union members also authorized their leaders to call a strike on July 1. On Thursday, Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU Local 1021 issued this statement:

“… this Monday, July 1, we draw a line. Be prepared for a major strike that will impact San Francisco, Oakland and much of the Bay Area. We have rallied community and union support, and we must all be present and accounted for as 1021 members and staff.”

 If the strike happens, local radio and television will provide information on conditions and decisions by the various unions.

Leave a Comment