Golden Gate Bridge workers set to strike over health care costs 

The Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition announced a potential strike on Friday after arguing several bargaining meetings have had no “real economic movement” since early last month. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • mike koozmin/s.f. examiner file photo
  • The Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition announced a potential strike on Friday after arguing several bargaining meetings have had no “real economic movement” since early last month.

Golden Gate Bridge employees are set to announce a strike this afternoon if their unions can't come to an agreement with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District on a final sticking point: health care contributions.

A potential strike, which the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition announced Friday, comes after several bargaining meetings with no "real economic movement" since Aug. 4, when unions voted to proceed with a strike, said coalition co-Chairman Alex Tonisson. The proposed three-year contract with a 3 percent wage increase annually, according to the coalition's calculations, also increases the cost of employees' health care premium and would cost 2 percent in wages.

"This has obviously been very frustrating for the Labor Coalition's bargaining team and there are still major concessions on the table, including increasing the health care premium by up to 194 percent for the lowest-paid worker," Tonisson said. "And also implementing a bottom-of-the-barrel, Affordable Care Act-style health care plan."

Bridge district General Manager Denis Mulligan said the coalition's claims are misconstrued. The district offers multiple medical plans, with the most expensive -- PPO -- costing the agency $33,000 annually per family, he said. Under the expired contract, which carries through until a new agreement is made, the employees paid very little for that plan. Those who choose it under the new contract would lose about half a percent in pay each year.

"Our deckhands are the highest paid in the San Francisco Bay Area," Mulligan said. "They make 20 percent more than other union deckhands, and iron workers make 10 percent more than other iron workers."

The coalition, which includes members from 13 unions who are ferry captains and deckhands, bus servicers and mechanics, ironworkers, inspectors and construction workers, plans to announce at 4 p.m. today whether a strike will occur this week.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

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Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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