OAKLAND (KCBS)— Bay Area Rapid Transit workers placed leaflets at stations around the Bay Area Thursday morning as their contract talks with management has become increasingly contentious.
The unions and the transit agency have 10 days before contracts with five unions are set to expire. More than 2,500 unionized workers could walk out on July 1st.
Service Employees International Union Local 1021 – which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers – and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 – which represents 945 train operators, station agents and foreworkers – will hold strike authorization votes on Tuesday.
SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Leah Berlanga said the unions have to give management 72 hours’ notice before going on strike, and that workers still hope a strike can be averted.
Gaileen Gaines, who keeps BART stations clean as a maintenance worker spoke at West Oakland station.
“We’re just hoping that management will come around and understand that what we’re asking for is just fair. We want the protection here at the stations. It’s not much that we’re asking for,” she said.
One of the issues at the forefront of these talks is workplace safety. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1021 said that over the past three years 100 BART employees were physically attacked and that management isn’t doing enough to protect them.
However, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency is serious about safety.
“We just put in hundreds of new security cameras in and around our system and hundreds more are coming. That also includes real-time cameras on our trains,” said Trost.
Trost said lighting and other safety concerns are being addressed by management and that those issues “don’t belong at the bargaining table.”
Trost said such concerns aren’t even being mentioned in the unions’ own internal communications about the labor talks, which she said instead emphasize salaries, work rules and benefits.
Efforts to ink a contract deal are on after the ATU walked away from talks on Tuesday.
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