AC Transit strike looms for Bay Area bus passengers

An AC Transit bus arriving at the temporary Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.
August 6, 2013 12:24:50 PM PDT
The union representing more than 1,600 workers for AC Transit is threatening to strike Wednesday if their demands are not met. If the strike occurs, more than 180,000 riders who use the bus system will be forced to find alternative transportation.

Joanne Avila of Oakland is already trying to figure out how to cope if AC Transit bus drivers and other workers walk off the job.

"I will have to probably start my commute at four in the morning and figure out how much it'll cost me to park out here," she said.

The thought of a strike left Sherry Thomas of Emeryville almost speechless.

"I don't know what to say about that. I hope they don't," she said.

In Oakland, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 President Yvonne Williams delivered a formal strike notice to transit commissioners at transit headquarters. She says the strike notice would have gone out even if the governor had not stopped BART workers from walking out.

"We did not make this decision lightly. It's a very difficult decision to make," she said.

Williams says the union and management are close. But two major issues have to be resolved.

Clarence Johnson, the spokesperson for AC Transit, says the real sticking points are wages and health and welfare benefits. He says they may be only 1 percent apart on wages but presently the union contributes nothing towards health benefits.

"Currently we're asking them to pay 10 percent like all the other employees do. And there [are] several proposals on the table that would get them to that 10 percent figure over the course of their three year contract," he said.

Although the union drew a line in the sand to strike Wednesday morning, Williams notes that there is wiggle room for continued bargaining without a strike.

"And if we do make progress, we will continue to go past Wednesday. But it would have to be significant progress with the number of issues," said Williams.

Without progress the buses will stop rolling Wednesday morning.


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