BART Trouble in California Leaves Management and Workers Uneasy

Due to unsafe and risky work conditions, BART workers have requested changes they may not receive

Employees of BART—the public transportation system in the Bay Area of California—continue to press for safer work conditions and higher pay. According to Mercury News, BART employees are still working out negotiations for a new contract with management, a process that has been going on for several months.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Service International Union Local 1021 held a news conference in San Francisco to discuss the negotiations and address what safety concerns the workers have, some of which include plant life growing from underneath train tracks which can cause fire danger, improper lighting in underground tunnels and diseased trees near tracks poles that could fall on trains and cause derailment.

In 2011 and 2008, in fact, two workers died due to unsafe conditions on the tracks. Workers have requested a graveyard team who can remove unsafe vegetation and debris, but according to Mercury News this grant is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Governor Jerry Brown requested a 60-day cooling off period a month ago to prevent shutting down the BART system, which is set to expire on October 10. Over the last month, management has taken a break in negotiating—the opposite of what Brown wanted them to do.

The negotiations have been going on for just about six months. Workers have requested higher pay, pension contributions, higher healthcare premiums and safer work conditions, according to Mercury News. Workers want a 20% wage increase over the next few years, but management has only promised them a 10% increase.

Though BART workers had a four-and-a-half day strike in July, they returned to work and have tried to continue negotiating since then. Once the cooling off period ends, however, transportation officials are gearing up for another strike.

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