SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Golden Gate Bridge bus workers have announced a third strike in a fight over health care costs, and will shut down bus service across bridges on Oct. 17.
Members of Teamsters Local 856 -- dispatchers, road supervisors, and customer representatives -- and maintenance workers of Teamsters Local 665, announced they would cease working at 3 a.m. next Friday and strike until the end of the day.
Drivers will not strike, but they will not cross the picket line, said Alex Tonisson, the co-chair of the 13-union Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition.
Workers have objected to the proposed contract, which would increase wages 3 percent each year for the next three years. But it also includes provisions that workers say are meant to drive workers toward plans that would result in families stuck with $12,000 out-of-pocket costs per year.
But a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District says that argument does not take into account the portion of the plan that allows each employee a $12,000 debit card that can be used to cover the out-of-pocket medical expenses.
"Our hope is that the coalition will engage in mediation with us instead of putting the public into this situation of dealing with a strike," said spokeswoman Priya Clemens. "Especially such a massive work stoppage that's really going to affect the North Bay hugely."
Tonisson says that plan is really a trick to trap workers into shouldering the burden of care.
"In three years, when those HRA cards are no longer allowed under the Affordable Health Act, the District is going to take those away," Tonisson said. "They're setting up a system that's going to cause massive increases for the cost of healthcare for our members in the future."
The coalition says it deliberately picked a Friday because it was a low commute day, hoping to minimize the effect on the 22,000 people who use bus services to cross the bridges between San Francisco and the East Bay on a typical workday.