BART Riders Brace For Possible Strike

A group of more than 30 people gathered at the 24th Street BART Station this morning in support of local unions. Photo by Andrew Kopke

A group of more than 30 people gathered at the 24th Street BART Station this morning in support of local unions. Photo by Andrew Kopke

Update: Wednesday’s morning results show that BART workers decided to allow union leaders to call a strike if a contract agreement isn’t reached by July 1. 

Bay Area Rapid Transit riders braced themselves Tuesday for a possible strike that could tremendously slow down their commute as soon as next Monday. Labor unions gathered at Metro Center in San Francisco on Tuesday to vote to authorize a strike.

Results of the votes are expected to be announced Wednesday morning.

More than 400,000 daily BART riders would be affected by the strike.

Jack Naidu, who lives in Hayward and works in Oakland, said a BART strike would be a major inconvenience. He said BART is his main source of transportation.

“How would I get to work?“ Naidu asked. “I do not know what I would do.”

BART and labor unions have negotiated since April over a new labor contract. The current contract is set to expire July 1.

Riders faced possible strikes in 2005 and 2009, but parties were able to reach a compromise without disruption of service. In 1997 though, BART users had to deal with six days of interrupted service and subsequent major traffic jams throughout the Bay Area.

Although a strike isn’t the goal, according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), union officials say they want to make sure workers’ rights are protected.

“It’s our workers that make BART what it is today,“ SEIU spokesperson Leah Berlanga said. “We’re down 130 vacant positions [on BART], so our folks are working harder and BART isn’t compensating for it.”

The proposed contract would give employees various raises in pay and benefits that would amount to a 23 percent increase in compensation over the next three years.

Berlanga said that safety is another issue that’s important to the labor union and that reaching an agreement on new policies could be difficult. In the last five years, workers have complained about numerous safety issues — primarily poor lighting at stations.

Berlanga said that these issues, along with other proposals that have been brought to the attention of BART management, have been ignored.

On Tuesday afternoon, some commuters in Oakland and San Francisco took the possible strike in stride while others worried.

“They always wait to the last minute with these things,” said Maxine, who declined to give her last name.

If a strike happens, she’ll take AC Transit buses from San Francisco to Downtown Oakland where she works, she said.

At 24th Street BART station, where members of SEIU Local 1021 gathered in support of the strike Tuesday morning, some riders dreaded what might lie ahead.

Phillip, who declined to give his last name, said he would be forced to ride his bicycle if workers go on strike.

“Last time they tried this, their demands seemed unreasonable,” he said. “They get benefits, they make decent wages.”

Berlanga said that the union is doing everything in its power to make striking a last resort. “We just want BART to meet us half way, “ she said.

12 Comments

  1. It would be a horrible thing if Bart went on strike… My sister has been through enough…
    My son is also startn a new job.. In which he was going to take Bart.. Both needs for Bart to stay up and running… But Bart employees also have their rights…

  2. local loudmouth

    The last time Bart workers threatened to go on strike, the anger from the public was so bitter and unrelenting that the Bart Unions backed down, and the strike was averted.
    The National Press at that time noted that while the transit workers in Philadelphia went on the transit strike,the Bart strike was avoided because of the public outcry.

  3. iskandr

    Transit is every bit as necessary as police, fire, etc. California should outlaw strikes in public transit agencies while providing a more robust negotiating process.

    • sibyl

      Do the workers really make that bad of wages and benefits do go on strike again? I am not criticizing them but the public needs to be educated about their state of affairs if we support this process being an American! Otherwise for a 23% increase over 3 years I am lucky in the private sector to get a cost of living raise of 2-3% annually; we need to not look a gifthorse in the mouth! Please let’s be happy with the benefits we have, and not be greedy for more if that is the case! I am not saying it is but BART employees please reconsider if Enough is Enough! Thank you for your continuing service to all of us hardworking Bay Areans!

  4. calloway

    I will be very upset with bart. I catch bart from el cerrito del norte at 417am to get to work in san bruno everyday. I dont know any other way to get to my job. the public depend on bart and bus to get from home to work. i understand they want more money. but if the public cant get to there jobs they can lose there homes car and cant put food on there tables too.

  5. BART supporter

    Instead of being angry at the workers, the public should really be supporting them. BART employees are public workers, just like all of you who take BART to get to work. They do not want to strike. The public should really be putting the hostility towards the BART management…that is overpaid CEO’s and selfish board members. That is after all who is ultimately creating this strike by not providing fair wages.

    • local loudmouth

      I think it was the Tribune who reported yesterday that the average yearly wage for a Bart worker is $134,000.00.
      How can you compare the average income of a Bart rider to a yearly income of $134,000 per year?

    • Taylor

      That is one of the most absurd comments I’ve ever read….ever!

      • Roger221

        You mean news reports in The Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle.
        I think it’s accurate.
        Want to here another shocker? You guys only pay an average of $92. a month for healthcare.

  6. Ezekiel Steffens

    BART workers disgust me. I make less than $25,000 year now, and must work to pay my bills. These guys are ridiculous.I read an article where a union employee said, “We have to increase their salaries so they can afford to survive in the Bay Area.” Are you serious? I can barely afford it but on average they make an annual salary five times greater! Fire them all. It makes me sick how well they’re paid and what generous benefits packages they receive. Disgusting.

  7. Mark Balkan

    I like to read this online newspaper, but too many old, no longer relevant postings.

    • Roger221

      If you travel on Bart, you want more discussion about the strike, not less.
      The Media has stopped coverage on the Bart Strike. Bart resumed service on Friday July 5, at 3PM. Today is Wednesday, July 10, and this is their first day back at the bargaining table. With the Strike scheduled to resume the first week in August, this way too slow a pace of negotiation.
      We are sliding into the next phase of the strike with a single comment.
      In the nineteen eighties one Bart Strike last for four to six weeks. He who is silent give consent.

Post a comment

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content. For concerns about comments posted to this site, please contact us at staff@oaklandnorth.net.

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook

*
*