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Rail News: Labor

BART's unionized workers authorize strike


Members of the Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) two largest labor unions voted on Tuesday to authorize a strike if the agency and unions are unable to reach a new contract before July 1.

The votes were held as representatives from BART, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 continued negotiations on the current contract, which expires at 11:59 p.m. June 30.

"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 percent raise," BART spokesman Rick Rice said in a prepared statement issued yesterday in response to the vote. "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 the strike, we ask that they stand by their word and give the public 72 hours of notice to prepare."

Union officials said they would honor a tradition of providing a 72-hour notice before a walkout.

"Our members have said they don't want to strike," John Arantes, BART's SEIU chapter president, said yesterday in a San Francisco Chronicle article. "But, they're willing to strike as a last option."

The differences between the parties during negotiations have included employee pension and health-insurance cost sharing, pay raises and safety issues.

On Monday, the unions filed a lawsuit seeking an unfair labor practice declaration against BART.

Earlier this month, two state mediators — one for each union — joined the negotiating table.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/27/2013