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BART Strike Still Looms For Wednesday By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday July 01, 2005

BART’s two biggest unions responded angrily Thursday to management’s latest offer, which union officials said BART gave to the press before they submitted it to union negotiators. 

“This is bad-faith bargaining in violation of the law,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 said in a press release. 

BART spokesperson Linton Johnson countered that the agency unveiled the offer to the unions hours before holding a Wednesday press conference. 

The unions did not formally respond to the proposal, and negotiations continued Thursday to avert a strike scheduled to begin Wednesday, July 6. The possible strike threatens to bring Bay Area traffic to a stand-still. 

BART, which serves 310,000 riders every weekday, would be shut down if workers walk off their jobs, Johnson said. 

BART’s latest offer includes a four percent raise over four years and requires BART to continue paying employee pension contributions. BART, facing a $100 million deficit over the next four years, had previously offered no raises and demanded that employees make pension contributions.  

The offer still requires that employees pay 13 percent more for health benefits. 

“This offer would eliminate our $100 million deficit without burdening our riders with additional costs,” Johnson said.  

BART has five unions. The two threatening to strike are ATU, Local 1555, which represents over 830 train operators, station agents and technical workers, and SEIU, Local 790, which represents 1,400 custodial, clerical and maintenance staff. 

Earlier this week, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993, which represents over 200 supervisors, agreed to a new deal. BART’s two police unions are prohibited from striking. 

The previous union contracts, which expired at midnight Friday, gave employees 22 percent raises over four years. 

This year BART has slashed a $53 million deficit to $24 million by raising fares, charging for parking at 10 East Bay stations and cutting 165 positions, more than half of which were vacant. 

In an earlier interview with the Daily Planet, Bud Brandenberger, vice president of the BART chapter of SEIU Local 790, charged BART’s deficit was caused by retaining too many management positions and transferring operating revenues to unnecessary capital projects. 

Cal Report Forecasts Traffic Jams 

A 2004 study by UC Berkeley researchers found that halting BART service would turn a half-hour jaunt across the bay into a three-hour journey. 

“If the Transbay Tube were out of commission and people were forced to hit the road, there would be a traffic nightmare on major Bay Area corridors and nearby city streets,” said Jorge Leval, lead author of the report in a prepared statement. “In many cases, drivers would likely spend one to two hours on city streets just to get to the freeway, crawling at speeds as low as two miles per hour.” 

The UC Berkeley report was commissioned by BART last year during its ballot initiative campaign to finance upgrades to the Transbay Tube. The study also assumed that commuters wouldn’t carpool in the event of a temporary halt to BART service. 


Transportation Options 

If BART workers strike, commuters should expect crowded buses, packed ferries and long bridge delays, said Randy Rentschler, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

“We don’t have the capacity to replace the service BART provides,” he said 

Rentschler recommended that workers who are able should either telecommute or change their work schedules to avoid rush-hour commutes. 

Bracing for an onrush of commuters, alternative transit agencies are hastily putting together contingency plans. BART announced Wednesday it would keep its parking lots open for car-poolers. Also, the agency is planning to operate a Transbay bus service, Johnson said. Details of the service are not yet available. 

AC Transit has said it will add Transbay routes during off peak hours when it has buses and drivers at its disposal. 

The Oakland-Alameda ferry will also add service in the event of a strike, Rentschler said. The ferry will turn their boats around faster and add direct service between Jack London Square and the San Francisco Ferry building. 

Information For Commuters  

Commuters interested in forming carpools can dial toll free 511 or go online to  

For information on casual carpooling, which will be available at all BART parking lots in the event of a strike, information is available at To return to the East Bay after work, casual car-poolers are asked to meet on Beale Street between Howard and Folsom streets. Passengers are encouraged to carry a two-sided sign: For the morning the sign should read, “Carpool to SF,” and for the afternoon, the name of the desired BART station. 

Berkeley is served by eight AC Transit Transbay bus lines: E,F,FS, G, H and Z. Go to for maps and schedules. AC Transit also encourages commuters to use its park and ride lot at Sixth and Market streets in Oakland. Transbay fares are $3 each way. 

Ferry service information is available by calling 511 or at the ferry’s website,›