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BART unions authorize strike

The Associated Press
Wednesday June 27, 2001

OAKLAND — BART’s two largest unions have voted to authorize a strike if they’re unable to come to an agreement before their contracts expire at midnight Saturday. 

“Our members have worked hard to make BART a success, and we expect and deserve fair treatment at the bargaining table,” said Larry Hendel, the East Bay director for the Service Employees International Union Local 790. 

While the vote does not mean a strike is inevitable, it sets the stage for a walkout as the unions and Bay Area Rapid Transit management head into their first session with a mediator today. 

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 806 station agents and train operators, voted unanimously in favor of a strike late Monday. The Service Employees International Union Local 790, which represents 1,737 maintenance, professional and clerical workers, also cast votes Monday, with 97 percent of members in favor of authorizing a strike. 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993 already has authorized a strike. It represents 271 supervisors and professionals. 

BART employees walked off the job for six days in September 1997, triggering chaos on the highways as 275,000 daily commuters were forced to find another way to work. 

BART’s average weekday ridership has since soared to 335,000.