Golden Gate Bridge District workers on strike

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ByCarolyn Tyler KGO logo
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Golden Gate Bridge District workers to go on strike
Golden Gate Bridge District workers will go on a one-day strike over a labor dispute Tuesday morning.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There will be picket lines near the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza Tuesday because some workers have just decided to go on strike.

The Machinests Union is the one taking the lead, but other unions will honor the picket lines.

Commuters coming across the Golden Gate Bridge may stop to take a peek at the pickets, but other than that there should be no major disruptions.

Workers representing more than a dozen unions will stop working Tuesday for a one-day strike. It will not affect the nearly 30,000 commuters who use the Golden Gate Transit Districts ferries or buses to get from Marin County to San Francisco.

"This is really a signal to the district that if these issues don't get settled, then there is going to be potentially a strike that will impact commuters in the near future," Labor Coalition spokesperson Alex Tonisson said.

"Well that's going to be a problem and the freeways are going to be jammed, but that much further on the bicycle," Mark Culver said.

The district has offered the workers 3-percent raises each over the next three years, but the union representatives say they are being asked to pay 2 percent of that into health care premiums. They want 3.75-percent wage hikes and a half a percent pay-in for health care.

"Keep in mind the cost of living in the Bay Area has gone up 3 percent a year now for a while. And so, anything below 3 percent is actually having us fall further behind the high cost of living," Tonisson said.

There are 450 workers from 13 unions that are impacted, including electricians and engineers to ferry captains and deckhands. The district says its offer is fair and generous.

"For instance our deckhands currently make 20 percent more than fellow union members at the other agencies that operate for our service. Our iron workers make 10 percent more than any of the iron workers, fellow members, in San Francisco's private sector," Golden Gate Bridge District representative Kellee Hopper said.

But beyond the traditional labor issues, the union has filed charges against the district alleging unfair labor practices for provisions in the 2012 contract.

"We had an agreement on health care that they have actually not honored the agreement. This was over retiree health care benefits," Tonisson said.

There was no response on that from the district, but representatives say they are disappointed with the strike.

"We actually just this morning put two new economic proposals in front of them and they didn't counter either of them," Golden Gate District representative Dana Fehler said.

The strike is from 6:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

There was a one-day walk-out back in 2012 and that one crippled the ferry service.