Bay Area Rapid Transit workers are ready to strike.
Leaders of the two unions representing BART's train drivers, mechanics, station agents and maintenance workers announced Wednesday they have voted to walk off the job if current negotiations fail.
SEIU leaders say 98 percent of the union’s workers voted yes to authorize a strike.
The union said it would give a 72 hour notice prior to a strike. As of Thursday morning, no strike had been declared and negotiations were ongoing. Both sides said they would be willing to work over the weekend in hopes of reaching a deal.
The workers say, if there is no contract in place by 11:59 Sunday night, they could possibly decide to strike. That means trouble for the 400,000 people that ride BART every weekday.
AC Transit workers have also authorized a strike and their contract also ends on June 30.
The President of the Board of AC Transit told NBC Bay Area a service interruption was unlikely on Monday.
Greg Harper said it has a contingency plan in place in case of a BART strike. Buses would be able accommodate 30-percent of the cross-bay riders usually served by BART every morning.
There is a chance of a "sick out" on Monday. If that happens, Harper said all bets are off.
All Bay Area transportation officials are taking the threat of a BART strike seriously and are urging commuters to review their contingency plans for getting to and from work, as BART trains could grind to a halt as early as Monday morning, July 1.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved funding Wednesday morning for three additional services in case there is a BART strike:
- $18.7 million for buses,
- $1.2 million for ferry,
- $100,000 for enforcement agencies, such as California Highway Patrol.
Right now, both sides are at odds over wages, health care benefits and pension. Employees want a 5 percent annual raise over the next three years. BART has offered a 1 percent raise annually over the next four years.
BART spokesperson Rick Rice issued the following statement on the unions’ strike authorization vote:
"This procedural step is a clear signal our employees are willing to shut down the Bay Area and cause commute chaos to make their case for a 23% raise. Despite losing a day at the table to allow for their vote, BART is at the table today and negotiating in good faith for a sustainable contract. Taxpayers and riders cannot continue to be the only source of funds to pay for the rising costs of benefits. BART is asking its employees to begin paying towards their pensions and contributing more than the $92 a month they currently pay for health care. We are interested in reaching a reasonable solution with our union partners. We believe a deal can be reached in time to avert a strike which will have far reaching economic impacts to the region. But if they must go the way of a strike, we ask that they stand by their word and give the public 72 hours of notice to prepare."
Train operators and station agents are currently paid in the low $60,000 range, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Associated Press and NBC Bay Area Reporter Jean Elle contributed to this report.