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Oakland City Workers Threaten Strike Along With BART Employees

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Union workers rally in front of Oakland City Hall, July 28, 2013. (CBS)

Union workers rally in front of Oakland City Hall, July 28, 2013. (CBS)

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Leaders of unions representing Bay Area Rapid Transit, city of Oakland and East Bay Regional Park District employees threatened to stage a strike next week at a boisterous rally in front of Oakland City Hall Friday.

Pete Castelli, the executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents workers at BART, the city of Oakland and other public agencies, said 1946 was the last time there was a general strike in Oakland but that it might be time for another mass labor action.

“The middle class is mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Castelli said.

SEIU Local 1021 president Roxanne Sanchez said, “BART employees are being forced to go on strike because of unfair bargaining” by the agency’s management.

The rally ended with about 100 BART, East Bay parks and Oakland city employees repeatedly chanting “Strike!” and “Enough is enough!”

Afterward, Castelli said Oakland employees definitely plan to stage a one-day strike on Monday and East Bay Parks employees plan to strike on July 3 and 4, but said there’s still a chance that a strike by BART employees can be averted before Monday.

Josie Mooney, a negotiator for SEIU Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers at BART, said contract talks with management were scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Friday and would continue throughout the weekend in hopes of reaching an agreement before the workers’ contract expires at midnight Sunday.

Mooney said there only has been “incremental” movement in contract talks so far and said management must be “more assiduous and creative” to reach an agreement.

BART management spokesman Rick Rice said in a statement that “there was some progress” in contract talks on Thursday and that management is “committed to continuing good faith negotiations and staying at the table until a deal is reached.”

The other large union involved in contract talks with BART is Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers.

BART’s management has asked Gov. Jerry Brown not to order a 60-day cooling off period that would delay a strike if an agreement is not reached by Sunday.

But ATU Local 155 President Antonette Bryant said in a statement that her union has asked Brown to declare a cooling off period “so we can sit down and seriously negotiate a contract.”

The last time BART employees staged a strike was in September 1997. The walkout lasted six days before a settlement was finally reached.

Bay Area commuters were being encouraged by regional transit officials to review alternatives if a BART strike does begin on Monday.

Commuters were encouraged to call 511 or visit www.511.org to review all travel alternatives.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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