GoldenGateBridge-001.jpgThe Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition rallied and marched along the Embarcadero Saturday evening as part of an ongoing contract dispute that affects union members who work with the ferries, buses and Golden Gate Bridge and roads.

The coalition, representing 19 unions, held a rally in front of the Ferry Building at 4 p.m. before heading along the Embarcadero toward AT&T Park to greet Giants fan disembarking the ferry before the Opening Night Game.

The coalition wanted to highlight how baseball fans rely on union workers to get to games by ferry, bus or car, which made the ballpark a strategic end spot for their informational picket.

Union members, who work as deckhands, captains, terminal assistants, mechanics and other positions within the Golden Gate Bridge Transportation and Highway District, came out in droves to express their frustrations.

Marina Secchitano, regional director of Inland Boatmen’s Union and coalition co-chair, said the district has asked for increased contributions to health care. The union said it has already made concessions it estimates have saved $2 million on pensions, medical benefits for retirees and more.

District spokeswoman Mary Currie said the district has equitable salaries and benefits and “we endeavor to provide that for all employees.”

Close to 200 union members carrying signs stating, “Don’t cut my family health care” and “Demand a clean and fully staffed ferry,” gathered this afternoon along the waterfront.

Union members have been working without a contract since last June after last April’s contract talks ended with no contract drawn.

Currie said negotiations are still in the works with a meeting scheduled Monday.

She described what’s been offered as “adequate and fair.”

Joe Van Bonn, an ironworker for the Golden Gate Bridge said he loves the bridge but it’s hard to celebrate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Bay Area landmark when “we are struggling to feed our families.”

Sixty-eight year old Jim Hardy brought his wife Melissa and 16-year-old son Spencer to the demonstration because he’s concerned about increased premiums for family health care.

The steel inspector who has worked at the bridge since 2000 and has worked union his entire adult life said he doesn’t want the district “chipping away at my medical benefits.”

Union members left the Ferry Building area chanting, “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power! What kind of power? Union power!” as they went to meet the Golden Gate Giants Ferry, which resumed special service between Larkspur and San Francisco on April 2 in time for baseball season.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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