OAKLAND (KCBS/ KPIX 5) — Workers at Alameda County’s AC Transit bus system have voted to authorize a strike if their union and the transit agency can’t agree on a new contract.

The AC Transit contract expires June 30, the same day as the labor deal for Bay Area Rapid Transit. BART workers were casting their own strike authorization vote on Tuesday.

Talks between AC Transit management and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, aided by a state mediator, remained ongoing despite more than 97 percent of ATU’s members voting to authorize a strike. An authorization vote doesn’t necessarily mean a walkout will happen, but it does give union leaders the authority to call a strike.

ATU Local 192 President Yvonne Williams said the primary concerns of her members were unfair labor practices and safety.

“Our members basically gave concessions of over $35 million and also work rules. That $35 million in concessions could have been used to support our families,” she said, adding that AC Transit workers had also experienced a 50-percent increase in work-related injuries in the past year.

AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson emphasized that the labor talks continued despite the union’s strike threat.

“There’s always a sense of urgency to have an agreement in place and I think, we’re at least hopeful, for something doable by the time the contract expires,” Johnson said.

However, KPIX 5 has learned that an AC Transit strike may be contingent on whatever BART does. Some AC Transit workers said they would not work if BART strikes because they contend their management has no plan in place to deal with the hordes of BART riders who will pile onto AC Transit buses.

About 200,000 passengers use AC Transit during a typical weekday.

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