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BART unions issue 72-hour strike warning

UPDATE Sun. 10:19 a.m. With Saturday’s labor negotiations unsuccessful, BART officials urge riders to consider alternative transportation for Monday, reports Contra Costa Times. AC Transit officials also ask its riders to prepare for a possible Monday strike.

People who use BART to get to work should enjoy their weekend, because Monday morning may be a horrible commute.

The unions representing train operators, station agents, mechanics, maintenance workers and others have given the transit system a 72-hour notice that they may be going on strike as early as Monday.

The notice comes after union workers overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing a strike earlier this week.

After getting the strike notice late Thursday BART put out a statement through spokesman Rick Rice:

“Shortly before 11 pm Thursday, BART received written notification from two of its unions that they may go on strike as early as July 1, 2013. The letters did, however, indicate that both unions preferred not to take this step and intended to continue negotiations.”

Rice said Union leaders and BART officials plan on resuming talks Friday and into the weekend:

“We’re looking forward to continuing that when we meet again today and through the weekend. There is still plenty of time to reach an agreement before the threatened strike Monday.”

Both sides remain at odds over salaries, health care and other issues.

Earlier this week SEIU Local 1021 BART chapter president John Arantes said despite the vote, BART workers don’t want to go on strike:

“We have tried in vain to get BART to have serious conversations about the issues facing workers every day – there are fewer workers, working for less money, in more dangerous conditions.  This is a unsafe, unfair situation that can’t be allowed to continue. We don’t want to strike, but BART management seems determined to cause one.”

 It’s feared that if BART workers walk off the job thousands of more cars could be crowding onto area freeways and roadways, causing massive backups and long delays.

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