Contract talks between BART management and representatives for more than 2,800 union workers are continuing into the early morning hours today, past a midnight goal that had been set by management.
BART spokesman Linton Johnson said at a briefing at 3 p.m. Thursday that the transit agency’s board of directors would consider adopting terms and conditions of employment for its workers if an agreement wasn’t reached by midnight.
Johnson indicated that talks wouldn’t last past midnight, saying, “Either we have a deal or we don’t have a deal” by that time.
But reporters who gathered outside the negotiations site at 2201 Broadway in downtown Oakland were kept waiting for developments in the contract talks, which began on April 1.
An assistant to Johnson told reporters that he would speak to them about midnight, but Johnson hadn’t made any announcements as of 1 a.m.
A union official said talks are expected to last at least until 3 a.m.
Union leaders said progress is being made in the contract talks but several sticking points remain.
Negotiators for both sides paced nervously outside the negotiation site while taking breaks to get some air or to smoke cigarettes.
Management says it wants to eliminate work rules that it believes are inefficient and costly and is committed to achieving $100 million in labor costs savings in order to cope with its large budget deficit, which it estimates to be $310 million over the next four years.
Union leaders have said they want management to look more closely at a proposal they’ve made, which they say will achieve $760 million in long-term savings.
BART Board President Thomas Blalock said at about 6 p.m. Thursday that the board was prepared to meet on Saturday to “consider all options,” including adopting terms and conditions of employment, if an agreement wasn’t reached Thursday night.
Larry Gerber, the chief negotiator for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which is BART’s largest union and represents about 1,400 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, said union workers would consider going on strike if management imposes a contract.
BART’s three largest unions voted by overwhelming margins last month to authorize a strike but there are no plans for a strike at this time.