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AC Transit Directors Ask For Cooling-Off Period As Strike Looms

OAKLAND (CBS SF) - AC Transit's board of directors asked Gov. Jerry Brown to seek a 60-day cooling off period to eliminate the possibility that the bus agency's employees could go on strike this week.

The board's request comes a day after Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents about 1,800 bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, clerical and other workers, issued a 72-hour strike notice and threatened a walkout starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

AC Transit, which logs about 200,000 daily bus rides by passengers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, has twice reached tentative agreements with union leaders on a new contract but union members have rejected both agreements.

Employees voted 561 to 369 against a tentative agreement on Oct. 1, and voted down a previous tentative pact on Aug. 17 by a margin of 576 to 257.

AC Transit management said it is offering employees a 9.5 percent pay increase over three years, which would give them an average of an additional $5,529 in annual income even after medical contributions are factored in.

ATU Local 192 President Yvonne Williams was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.

In their letter to Brown, AC Transit board members said they were asking for a cooling-off period because a strike would leave riders stranded and "significantly endanger the public's health, safety and welfare."

Board members said a strike would cause "significant disruption of service to our riders in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo Counties as well as to and from San Francisco."

They added, "The BART strike (in July) arguably provides more than sufficient evidence of the type of disruption that another Bay Area transit worker strike would entail."

AC Transit management said it remains ready negotiate with ATU's leadership to try to reach a labor agreement and avoid any disruption in bus service.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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