OAKLAND (KCBS)— Bay Area Rapid Transit’s labor unions have said they’re upset that the transit district will spend $400,000 for a private negotiator for contract talks set to begin next week. BART officials have said that, despite tough times, they believe the money will be well spent.

Leaders from BART’s five unions are still critical of the move and said BART already has an in-house staff for labor negotiations and that paying that amount to go outside the agency is irresponsible.

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“Last time around we were able to save $100 million at the table in terms of givebacks from the employee unions. That really shows the investment of what these labor negation experts that help us lead us through the process are,” said BART Spokewoman Alicia Trost.

John Arantas, with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, said it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money.

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“That’s because BART has a lot of money right now and they want to use that money to try to oppress the unions,” he said.

Labor talks begin next Wednesday. The deadline for a new contract is July 1st.

The unions said they did not get a raise four years ago and they want one now. BART maintains they still need to save money on labor costs.

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