After an hour and a half of impassioned testimony BART'S Board of Directors approved a new budget Thursday night as workers said they may have to go on strike.
The board's vote was unanimous in favor of the budget.
But it's a preliminary budget because union negotiations are still pending.
And union members clearly said they are not ruling out a strike.
The BART board room was packed and union members wore purple shirts to show solidarity and spoke with passion.
"You guys need to step up and do your job and be for the people not for management," said ATU train operator Gena Alexander.
The Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union 1555 combined represent 2,375 train operators, station agents, mechanics and other employees.
They told the board, they are prepared to walk off the job if they feel it’s needed.
Their contract expires July 1.
Prior to the meeting, BART officials explained the $1.5 billion will go toward its top priority, investing in new trains to replace the current fleet, which is the oldest in the nation.
As for the unions, BART's general manager says costs need to be contained.
Employees now pay $92 a month for health care and nothing toward pensions.
"Our employees must be better partners, must contribute," said BART General Manager Grace Crunican.
Union members say pensions are needed because BART employees do not receive Social Security and say they've done extra work during a four year hiring freeze with no raises.
"Our members gave up $100 million in cuts last year, $100 million in concessions, and now they're saying not another pay increase for four years? That's unacceptable," said Antonette Bryant, President of ATU 1555.
The SEIU has contract talks scheduled for Friday morning and the ATU meets on Monday.
Many BART riders are hoping it all ends without a strike.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.