Sunday, June 30: BART Strike Deadline Update
The unions representing Oakland’s city workers announced that they are calling a strike against the City on Monday, July 1. The city’s union contracts expire on July 1 and union representatives of the IFPTE Local 21 and SEIU Local 1021 said the latest negotiations have been “unproductive.” It is to be a one-day work stoppage.
This strike is separate from that threatened by BART workers that is also slated to begin as early as Monday morning.
(BAY CITY NEWS AND KQED) BART workers have delivered a 72-hour strike notice to BART management, according to a union representative.
A potential strike could begin as early as Monday morning, as the unions’ contracts with BART expire Sunday. Union officials will answer questions at a press event this morning.
Negotiations between BART and the two biggest unions, Service Employees International Union 1021, representing maintenance workers and electricians, and Amalgamated Transit Union 1555, representing station agents and train operators, are stalled. The main issues are worker and rider safety issues, wages and employee pension and health care contributions.
On Wednesday, KQED reported that the unions voted to authorize the strike.
BART officials have repeatedly called the safety issues raised by the unions a “smoke screen,” insisting contract negotiations are not the place to raise them. BART spokesman Rick Rice said the system can’t remain sustainable if employees continue to contribute nothing to pensions and pay a flat $92 per month for health care, regardless of the number of dependents. The gulf between each side’s suggested wage increases over the next four years is vast, with the unions initially proposing 23 percent and BART proposing 4 percent.
“Safety is not part of the negotiations,” Rice said. “The district’s budget for 2014 has $4.5 million in the budget for new lighting in the tunnels. And frankly, union leaders have a chance to meet weekly and monthly to discuss issues like that.”
While both sides have said they will continue negotiations despite the strike notice — and are hopeful a strike can be avoided — Bay Area commuters are nervous. If negotiations remain stalled, Gov. Jerry Brown could impose a 60-day cooling-off period, pushing a potential strike to later in the year.
BART provides about 400,000 rides daily, including 96,000 across the Bay in the Transbay Tube during peak commute hours. KQED reported a BART shutdown could cause massive gridlock.
A BART shutdown may be disastrous, warn transit officials. The Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission is urging commuters to work from home or at least avoid rush hour, warning of “thousands more vehicles than usual” expected to clog streets and highways. The commission today approved $20 million in emergency funding to provide alternative transportation in the event of a BART strike. The money would come mostly from up to $18.7 million in state funding to BART that the MTC has the authority to redirect to other agencies if necessary, MTC executive director Steve Heminger said.