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BART unions prepare for strike authorization vote

With no solution in sight to a wage impasse, labor unions representing the Bay Area's commuter rail system are voting Tuesday whether to authorize a strike.

BART and the labor unions have been deadlocked for months. The current contract is set to expire at midnight on Sunday.

Today's vote comes a day after the local chapters of the two largest unions representing BART workers -- the SEIU and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) -- jointly filed a lawsuit against BART's board of directors. The unions are claiming the agency has not been bargaining in good faith because BART won't negotiate safety issues.

Antonette Bryant, the president of ATU Local-1555, said over 1,000 passengers and 100 employees have been physically assaulted since 2006.

But Alicia Trost, a BART spokesperson, said the unions were using safety as a "smokescreen."

The two sides are far apart. The unions want a 23 percent wage increase over the next four years. BART is offering a four percent raise over the next four years. Workers haven't had a pay increase for four years.

Union leaders said the strike authorization vote will go late into the night.