BART Negotiations Resume With Union Reiterating Safety Concerns

OAKLAND (KCBS)— The Bay Area could see the start of another BART strike as early as October 11th if negotiations that resumed this week fail to lead to an agreement.

On Wednesday, the union representing mechanics and maintenance workers talked about their biggest safety concerns.

SEIU Local 1021 leaders held a news conference at their offices off 16th Street in Oakland in advance of getting back to the table with BART on Thursday.

These first talks since a 60-day cooling off period began last month will center on supplemental issues.

“I proposed on this contract a section where we would have an on-rail grounds crew to take care of the vegetation problems and overgrowth that we have on the track ways,” said Robert Bianco, a 30-year employee.

Bianco said overgrowth is a major concern as did another longtime employee John Arantes.

He noted that in BART’s history that a tree has fallen down and struck a train.

Another major concern is inadequate lighting in tunnels.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said both a complete lighting overhaul is funded and they already have a crew of 100 doing vegetation control.

Trost said most safety proposals from both unions are ways to add more staffing.

”It’s not like we’re against staffing up, it’s just we can’t staff up and pay for an expensive contract at the same time,” she said.

The main issues of pay, pension and health care are set to be taken up next week.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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