AC Transit workers may strike on Thursday

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AC Transit employees could strike this Thursday, following a 72-hour notice they issued Monday night.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, a union that represents 1,760 bus operators, mechanics, dispatchers, clerical and allied workers at AC Transit, rejected a labor contract proposed by AC Transit. AC Transit union employees have already twice rejected proposed labor agreements.

On Tuesday, AC Transit’s board of directors asked Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a 60-day cooling-off period to stop AC Transit workers from striking, according to a press release from AC Transit. In a letter to Brown, AC Transit said the proposed strike would “significantly endanger the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

In early August, ATU Local 192 and AC Transit reached a tentative agreement on negotiations that included a wage increase of 9.5 percent over the next three years and monthly health care contributions of $70, $140 and $180, respectively, for each of the three years. However, the union rejected the contract.

“Like most Americans, our members lost substantial income during the great recession,” said ATU Local 192 President Yvonne Williams in an Oct. 2 press release by the union. “They are expressing concern about how this raise, after medical deductions, makes up for those past concessions.”

AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said that AC Transit has not received any requests from the union to change its proposal. There are no negotiations scheduled at this time, but he said there may be “at some point.”

“They rejected the contract, but they haven’t gotten back to us on what’s wrong with it,” Johnson said. “We’re kind of in the dark here on how to proceed with negotiations.”

ATU Local 192 workers transport about 200,000 passengers a day in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Of that number, Johnson said about 60,000 are schoolchildren.

BART union employees also threatened to strike on Tuesday, but they postponed the strike after deciding to continue negotiations that day. If an agreement is not met between unions and BART management, BART workers could go on strike this week.

In that case, 400,000 daily BART commuters could be left without transportation, in addition to the potentially 200,000 AC Transit riders on Thursday.

Tara Hurley covers city news. Contact her at [email protected].