BART, unions continue finger pointing as strike looms

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.
July 31, 2013 6:35:56 PM PDT
The countdown continues to next week's threatened BART strike, putting commuters in the middle of an emotional labor dispute.

The unions have agreed to give a 72-hour notice if they plan to strike. That notice could come on Thursday. But the question remains whether a deal can be struck by Sunday's deadline.

"The mediators believe that we've set a calendar that can lead to a deal and we're hopeful that that's true," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.

"We are not here to play games with the district. We are not here to play games with the riding public. We are here to negotiate a contract to ensure that on August 4, trains will be running," said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant.

BART says it's made significant movement in its offer since talks began, although the unions say that most recent offer is from July 19.

"Doubling our salary proposal, slashing the medical proposal in half, I would disagree that we are getting nowhere. This is real movement, offering a fair deal," said Trost.

"The numbers that the BART Board of Directors have been giving both the public and the press are false. They are not true," said SEIU negotiator Josie Mooney.

"That 2 percent pay increase, per year, results in either a net-zero or something less for our members. So that is not an 8 percent pay increase. We want to ensure that the public understands that," said Bryant.

What the public understands, so far, is that they should start making alternate plans for next week's commute.

"Normally, you know, I do usually side with union but this time I just, I can't. I don't have any sympathy for them," said BART rider Lisa Powell.

"We do know what we're working on behind the scenes. We're working with MTC; there is a huge regional conference call today. We're trying to get more hands on buses for each of the stations. We're going to add another extra location at Concord, for pick up," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost. "We also want to get more direct service to the city with those bus services. The last time we made people loop through West Oakland and we'll continue to do that but we want to make some buses go straight to San Francisco. We learned from the last time."

The previous BART strike occurred during the Fourth of July holiday week and the region was crippled then. This time transportation officials hope to improve the process to limit the damage another work-stoppage would create on Bay Area roadways.

Only the governor has the power order a cooling off period.


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