BART Users: Start Looking for a New Ride

If you rely on BART to get to get around the Bay Area, you better start looking around for a new ride in case its employees go on strike.

A BART employee strike became a distinct possibility Tuesday with two unions voting in favor of authorizing one if necessary.

Ninety-one percent of BART workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers, voted in a secret ballot in favor of authorizing their union leaders to call for a strike if both sides do not come to an agreement at the conclusion of negotiation discussions at the end of this month.

Local 3993 president Jean Hamilton Tuesday said the vote is standard procedure as union leaders and BART management move forward in the negotiation process.

"This vote does not mean that we will automatically go on strike. It just indicates that membership is solidly behind union leaders," Hamilton said.

AFSCME, along with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 960 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,200 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, comprise the three largest of BART's five unions.

Leaders for all three said more time is likely necessary to reach a new labor agreement and accused the transit agency's executives of asking riders and employees to suffer the consequences of their financial mismanagement.

According to Hamilton, BART executives are conveying that the only way to close their budget gap is to raise fares and take away job and retirement security from employees.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said BART unions have yet to agree  to a single major cost-saving proposal designed to help close the agency's $250 million deficit over the next four years.

Bay City News

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