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One Union Sets Strike Deadline; Other Promises To Honor Picket Lines

September 23, 1988

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ The area’s 204,000 daily rail riders are faced with commuting chaos as the Bay Area Rapid Transit district’s biggest union prepares to go on strike Monday.

BART officials were trying to figure out how to keep the 76-mile system operating after the union representing mechanics, janitors and clerks announced Thursday its members would walk off the job. A separate union representing train operators and station agents said they would honor the strike.

″We will of course begin making plans as to what level of service we can operate,″ said BART spokesman Sy Mouber. ″A problem we’re going to have is certifying people who are going to be operating the trains.″

No new talks were scheduled between the union and BART, but Mouber said district representatives would talk with a mediator today.

Members of Local 790 of the United Public Employees Union rejected a proposed contract offer Wednesday by a vote of 464-354. Their opposition centers on non-economic issues, including proposed changes in work rules, working conditions, safety-related issues and union rights.

BART ″has forced us into a position where we have no alternative,″ said Suzanne Angeli, vice president of the local.

Local 1555 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents train operators and station agents, endorsed the contract on a 170-164 vote, and BART’s board of directors ratified that agreement Thursday. Local 1555 leader Hank White said his members would honor the picket lines, though.

The two unions represent nearly two-thirds of the employees of BART, which serves three Bay area counties.

The proposed three-year pact calls for a 14 percent increase in pay and benefits in the first year and 3 percent in each of the next two years, with a one-time cost-of-living payment at the end.

Both unions have criticized the proposed retirement benefits.

In 1979, a strike shut down the system for five weeks. Managers then were able to offer limited service on the line between San Francisco and Concord, about 45 miles to the east.