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Progress Reported In AC Transit Labor Talks Aimed At Averting Strike

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OAKLAND (KCBS/KPIX 5) — Officials with the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) said they were making progress Tuesday in ongoing contract talks with the union representing its bus operators and other workers.

Spokesman Clarence Johnson said AC Transit and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 had more than halved their differences over wages and health care. The union has said it will go on strike Wednesday morning if a contract deal is not reached.

The transit agency is offering a nine-percent raise while the union is asking for 10 percent. Johnson said there is still work to be done on the benefits package, but “we’re moving in the right direction,” he told reporters Tuesday.

AC Transit runs 108 lines from Richmond to Fremont, serves 13 cities, runs 27 lines across the Bay Bridge, two over the Dumbarton Bridge and one across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. That’s 11,000 Trans-Bay riders.

Those rider, like Jenny Graham who was waiting at the San Francisco Trans-Bay Terminal for the F Bus Tuesday morning, are concerned with their alternative options if workers strike.

“I take the F Bus to Emeryville and it stops there before it gets to Berkeley and there’s actually no BART stop in Emeryville, so I’d actually have to take an additional few transfers to get to work every morning if they went on strike,” she said.

But many riders, the elderly for instance, don’t have options other than the bus to get them to places that are crucial like the grocery store.

Johnson noted that Bay Area Rapid Transit doesn’t go everywhere and that’s why the bus is so critical.

“Again, our buses criss-cross the neighborhoods. BART does not do that. BART runs through neighborhoods, but it doesn’t meander through and criss-cross in the kind of grids that we have.

The potential AC Transit bus strike comes as BART and its train workers remain at odds over terms of a new contract. A board appointed by the governor is expected to hear from BART and its unions at a public hearing on Wednesday.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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