SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Bay Area Rapid Transit workers took a significant step closer Wednesday to a train stoppage that would affect hundreds of thousands of daily commuters, prompting transportation officials to warn that there could be gridlock on the region’s streets next week.
The membership of two major unions representing 2,375 BART employees voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike when their current contracts expire on June 30, labor leaders announced.
While the authorization vote doesn’t necessarily mean a walkout will happen, it does give union officials the authority to call a strike with 72-hours notice. A potential strike could begin as early as Monday morning’s commute.
“A BART strike would be disastrous, crippling our transportation system and economically paralyzing the entire region,” Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman told CBS San Francisco in an e-mail from the region’s top business-advocacy group. “Employers should prepare for the worst, and BART and the unions should buckle down and get a contract done.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1221 have been embroiled in contentious contract negotiations with BART management. Talks resumed Wednesday with the aid of a state mediator at the hopes of averting a possible strike.