The 2,500 workers at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) were forced on strike early this morning after BART management “demanded new sweeping powers to endanger and exploit our workers—all of this at the last minute,” said Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1555.
This is not a union strike. This is a management strike brought on by absolute arrogance.
ATU represents train operators and station agents; the other major group of BART workers are the more than 1,400 mechanics, maintenance workers and staff represented by SEIU Local 1021. BART trains operate in the San Francisco/Oakland area.
The unions and BART management had been in federal mediation and union leaders said they were close to an agreement. But, said Bryant:
In the past three days, we’ve found agreement on nearly every “must-have” issue for both sides, including wages, pensions and benefits. However, the last 72 hours have seen management demand new—and unreasonable—workplace authority that would give them license to abuse and extort our workers as we approached the finish line. BART owes us and the Bay Area an apology for their actions.
Roxanne Sanchez, president of SEIU Local 1021, said:
Time and time again, after we made a concession, management would move the goal posts, including now—after reaching a general agreement on economics—demanding changes in workplace rules that have historically protected workers from issues like abuse of power, unfair treatment and sexual harassment.
After their contract expired in July, the workers were on strike for four and half days and then resumed talks. In August, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed a 60-day “cooling off” period that expired earlier this week, but negotiations continued through yesterday.