OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors meeting on Thursday was filled with employees for the transit agency, many of whom had harsh words about the ongoing labor dispute between the two sides.
This comes a day before negotiations are set to continue between the two sides, as they look to come to an agreement on a new contract before their contract expires on August 4.
Local Service Employees International Union president Roxanne Sanchez told the board that unless the agency changes its stance at the bargaining table, “We will be prepared for the bloodiest, longest strike since the 1970’s.”
In 1979, a labor strike shut down BART operations for three months.
Carmen Williams, who cleans trains as they come in, said much of the concerns revolves around safety for employees.
“I’d like to see more BART police presence at the end of the line,” she said.
Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Vice President Robert Fernandez, a mechanic, stressed the need for more safety inspectors.
“Heaven help us all if we have an accident that could have been prevented,” Fernandez said.
Many workers also complained about receiving word that lead BART negotiator Thomas Hock is planning a weeklong vacation this month.
“That tells us that they don’t care and are just playing games,” said John Arantes, president of SEIU Local 1021. “They want to push us to August 4 and force us to strike again.”
A BART spokesman said he was unaware of any planned vacation by Hock, but that he is available for every meeting set by the mediator throughout July.
BART workers went on strike on July 1, shutting down the rail system for 4 ½ days. They reached a deal late on July 4, extending their current contract for 30 days.
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