San Francisco transit workers strike for the second time in 2013

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“After a marathon 28-hour bargaining session, BART’s two largest unions thought they had the final framework for a deal,” Castelli continued. “We met BART’s demands on pensions. We met BARTs demands on health care benefits. We had the outline of a deal on wages. We offered to send unresolved work rule issues to voluntary binding interest arbitration. But after telling the public that their main goal at the bargaining table was saving money to buy new trains, BART management blew up negotiations by insisting that employees sacrifice workplace protections in exchange for economic well-being. This was a poison pill for workers: choose between your paycheck and your rights.”

The BART system is the fifth-busiest U.S. public transportation network. The agency’s leaders told riders to find other alternatives for their commutes on Friday.

“BART's unions called for a strike beginning Friday, October 18th,” the agency said in a post on its website.  “Whether you ride BART, use other public transit services or drive, everyone needs to consider the alternatives and plan their commute. For a summary of all transit options, carpool rideshare locations and traffic conditions visit http://alert.511.org/.”

The BART workers' strike marks the second time this year that transit service has been shuttered in San Francisco. The agency’s employees went on strike for a week in July, draw scrutiny from transportation observers about the impact on other forms of commuting like car-sharing.

Leaders for the unions have said that they are trying to achieve better pay and safer working conditions for BART workers in the contentious negotiations.

The labor issues that are roiling the BART system have drawn national attention because the San Francisco transit normally trails only New York City's subway, Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail, Chicago's "L" and Boston's "T" subways in daily ridership among U.S. public transportation agencies.