BART on strike

BART drivers and maintenance workers went on strike after a weekend of negotiations failed to result in a contract agreement, essentially bringing the transit system to a halt.

The unions who moved ahead with the strike just as their contracts expired at the end of June 30 are SEIU 1021, representing about 1,400 BART inspectors and maintenance workers, and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, representing BART drivers.

This morning I stopped by Civic Center plaza, where union reps were camped out with signs and distributing fliers about the strike. I spoke with Karen Joubert, vice president of representation for SEIU Local 1021. She told me the ten-hour “negotiating session” that transpired at BART’s Oakland headquarters this past weekend was not really much of a negotiation at all. Instead of considering new proposals or hashing out details, little exchange took place between the union representatives and the transit agency, Joubert said.

“It’s been, come back at 1, come back at 3, come back at 6,” to no avail, she said. Since no progress was made, the workers went ahead with the strike they had authorized days prior, which was mounted due to concerns around safety issues, workers’ requested wage increases, higher health care costs, and pension contributions. (More background here.)

“We’re meeting this morning and we’re trying to get them back to negotiate,” Joubert said.