California senators warn against San Francisco transit strike

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“We write to strongly encourage all parties involved in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) contract negotiations to use the seven-day ‘cooling off period’ declared by Gov. [Jerry] Brown to end the labor dispute,” the senators wrote.

“The Bay Area relies on a safe, affordable, and reliable public transportation system, and any BART service disruption has significant impacts on our region’s economy and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the system,” they continued.  “We urge you to resume negotiations in good faith, end the dispute, and work together to avoid any further disruptions to BART service.”

The July BART strike was ended when the authority and the unions that represent its employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), agreed to a 30-day extension of their previous labor agreement.

The sides stressed at the time that although service on the BART system was resuming, no new agreement had been reached.

“I am happy to announce the BART system will be open and fully operational at 3 p.m. on Friday,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement released on July 5.

“Unfortunately, the issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved,” Crunican continued. “Despite lots of hard work, BART and its unions have failed to come to an agreement on contract issues that matter to all of us today and into the future. We still have a wide gap of disagreements to bridge over the next 30 days.”

Leaders for the labor unions said that they were striking in July for better pay and safer working conditions for BART workers.

"We gave up over $100 million in concessions in our last contract negotiations, and we haven’t had a raise in five years, yet the cost of living in the Bay Area has spiked by over 18 percent," the SEIU's Local 121 wrote on the website keepBARTrunning.com.

“Meanwhile ridership is at record high and the system is running at peak condition,” the website continued. “We are being asked to do more, with fewer workers and less pay. It's not fair and it hurts our ability to serve the riding public.”  

Transportation observers were watching the impact of the strike to see if the halt in BART service led to an increase in the use of new car sharing services.

The San Francisco BART system normally trails only New York City's subway, Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail, Chicago's "L" line and Boston's "T" subways in daily ridership among U.S. public transportation agencies.