As commuters scramble to make it to and from work without BART today, a spokesman for the transit agency said this afternoon that no further bargaining sessions have been scheduled yet between BART’s management and its employee unions.
BART spokesman Rick Rice said management conveyed to mediators the hope that talks can be scheduled “very soon” and that BART is “prepared to negotiate the significantly improved proposal we delivered on Saturday.”
He said, “We’re ready” to talk to the leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1221, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers.
Those employees began striking early this morning after their contract expired at midnight Sunday with no new agreement reached.
Rice said, “Unfortunately we do not have any further information on when negotiations will resume or how long the strike may last. We’re doing everything we can to get our people back to work and the trains running for everyone in the Bay Area.”
He said, “We are sorry peoples’ lives have been disrupted by the union strike. This strike is not necessary and we call on union leaders to end it and join us at the table so the Bay Area can get moving again.”
The key issues in the talks, which began on April 1 but broke off Sunday night, are pensions, health benefits, salaries and safety.
Rice said, “We have a tremendous workforce, they keep our system working and they are dedicated employees. BART is simply trying to normalize its compensation package to better match what others pay towards pension and medical benefits.”
The last time BART employees went on strike was in September 1997.
The walkout lasted six days before a settlement was finally reached.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News