BART unions give 72-hour notice of strike to begin Monday

Alex Mousouris/Staff
The Downtown Berkeley BART station remains closed during a 4-day strike in July led by BART unions.

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BART unions gave 72-hour notice of a strike Thursday night that will begin Monday morning if an agreement is not reached between BART employees and administration.

The 30-day contract extension between labor unions Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, established after the July strike, will expire Sunday night and may lead to another strike if negotiations before then are unsuccessful.

“We are very disappointed and hope they reconsider their options,” said BART spokesperson Rick Rice in a press release Thursday. “A strike only stalls and delays the decisions that need to be made while using our riders as pawns.”

In an interview Thursday, he said that the end of the contract on Sunday does not guarantee a strike.

“We can continue talking Monday,” he said. “There’s really no reason for a strike and no hard, fast rule there has to be a strike. We are hoping to reach an agreement at the table and not throw the Bay Area into chaos again.”

Pete Castelli, executive director of SEIU 1021, said that although BART employees and administration share the common goal of avoiding a strike, he is dissatisfied with BART’s management of the negotiations — especially the administration’s choice to hire Thomas Hock, a $400,000 outside consultant.

Hock left negotiations earlier this month to go on vacation and has only recently returned.

“Frankly, on the big issues, we’ve done very little bargaining, and the blame lies squarely at the feet of the BART administration for allowing this outside consultant to not take it seriously,” Castelli said.

Union negotiators were informed of Hock’s availability ahead of negotiations, Rice said.

“Mr. Hock is an experienced negotiator, and the district has faith that he’ll get us through to a good contract this time,” he said.

Castelli said that negotiators have not yet reached an agreement that benefits BART workers.

“Right now, a worker that makes $52,000 a year would lose $2,000 if we take the current proposal on the table,” he said. “We haven’t had a raise in four years.”

Contact Madeleine Pauker at [email protected]

A previous version of this article misspelled Rick Rice’s last name.