OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Bay Area Rapid Transit union workers have given 72-hour notice of a strike.
SEIU Local 1021, ATU 1555, and AFSCME issued a statement Thursday at 7 p.m. officially notifying BART that workers may resume their strike on Sunday at midnight.
That means train service that serves more than 400,000 commuters each weekday could be shut down during Monday morning’s commute if a deal isn’t reached over the weekend.
BART management issued a statement shortly after the 72-hour strike notice saying a strike is unnecessary and places an unfair burden on riders.
In turn, the unions accused BART management of refusing to negotiate in good faith or make any progress on safety and wage issues during the 30-day contract extension that ended the July walkout.
“We are very disappointed and hope they reconsider their options” said BART spokesman Rick Rice. “BART is willing to stay at the table for as long as it takes to reach an agreement. Even if there isn’t a deal in place by Sunday night, talks can be extended.”
Despite Thursday night’s strike warning, labor talks will continue until the contract expires at midnight Sunday.
In the event of a strike Monday morning, agency contractually cannot hire any replacement workers, but BART spokesman Jim Allison said it will secure about 95 charter buses to transport Bay Area commuters if there’s a strike.
The unions went on strike last month, shutting down BART service for four days and snarling transit in the region. Commuters faced long lines for buses and ferries, and roadways were jammed, but a transit shutdown next week could be more disruptive because the first work stoppage occurred around the Fourth of July holiday.
The unions — which represent nearly 2,400 train operators, station agents, mechanics, maintenance workers and professional staff — agreed to call off the strike and extend their contracts until August 4 while negotiations continued.
Key sticking points in the labor dispute include worker safety, pensions and health care costs, according to BART and union officials.
The transit agency has said union train operators and station agents average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually. The workers pay nothing toward their pensions.
BART said it needs to save money on benefits to help pay for system improvements.
Unions submitted their last financial proposal last month and were awaiting a counteroffer from BART, said Josie Mooney, chief negotiator for the local Service Employees International Union, the other union in talks with BART. Mooney said they offered to contribute to the pension, but she could not say how much because of a gag order issued by a mediator.
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