BART strike set for Monday

August 13, 2009 10:27:57 PM PDT
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 1555 President Jesse Hunt says trains will run through the end of the day Sunday, but a strike will start Monday morning.

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The BART trains will stop running on Monday morning. One of the unions that refused to ratify the new contract decided it will walk off the job.

Jesse Hunt, the president of the second largest union ATU, which consists of the train operators and station agents, announced shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Thursday that they will begin a strike on Sunday evening at the end of the Business day.

The union has been threatening this all along if BART were to impose the terms and conditions of employment, and that's exactly what the BART board did.

ATU is the only union to reject the contract. ACLU and ASFME both approved the offer on Monday, but each union's deal is slightly different, and ATU said is unhappy with being locked into a four-year deal with a wage freeze and benefits concessions.

They would prefer a two-year deal hoping that the economy would turn around. The employment conditions that were imposed are far worse including a seven percent pay cut and ATU is continuing to say that they will strike if they do that.

"We believe that negotiations are the way to resolve these issues, but in the event that the management imposes, we'd have to strike," said Hunt.

"ATU does not have to go on strike, they don't have to live under this conditions if they don't want to. All they need to do is negotiate, meet the financial targets that we've said and stop, rather join their brothers and sisters at ACLU and ASFME and make in the tough decisions that those two unions made for the benefits of the riders and the taxpayers and for the members," said BART Chief Spokesman Linton Johnson.

There are no plans for talks to occur between now and Sunday night. There are three weeks to go until the Bay Bridge closure for their retrofitting work.

The cooling off period proposed by the governor is unlikely to occur, and according to the Governor's Office, Gov. Schwarzenegger still has not changed his position and does not support the strike.

BART said that they are preparing for the strike and are planning to offer buses from five of their stations, and they are encouraging passengers to check www.511.orgto plan their commute.

Mayors of the two Bay Area cities that would be most affected by a BART strike released statements today. "Today, I am calling on BART and the Amalgamated Transit Union to go back to the negotiating table to work out a deal and prevent a strike. Halting service to BART's 340,000 daily riders will hamstring Bay Area commuters, clog our freeways, and affect businesses across the region as workers and consumers are left stranded. All jurisdictions are feeling the pain of the tough economic climate and a BART strike that strands riders will only make it harder for everyone who lives and works in the Bay Area and relies on public transportation," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "It is our sincere hope that these negotiations get resolved in a timely matter, because many Oakland residents and employees depend on Bay Area Rapid Transit on a daily basis. These actions could have a tremendous impact on our business community at a time they should have our full support. Next week will be a challenge, but I encourage every Oakland resident and commuter to remain vigilant through this process, by visiting www.511.org for more information, carpooling when appropriate, and utilizing AC Transit and our Alameda/Oakland Ferry system," said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. Click here for a complete liste of BART transit alternatives.

When asked if BART was prepared to hire train operators or train them, there was a very long pause from Johnson.

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