Bay Area Crosses Fingers At News That BART Contract Negotiations To Resume Tuesday Night

5:54 PM: BART labor talks will resume this evening at the request of California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown said.

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown, said, “All parties are returning to the bargaining table tonight. To facilitate discussion between BART and its unions, the state is sending in two of its top mediators.”

He identified them as Anita Martinez, the chair of the Public Employment Relations Board, and Loretta van der Pol, the chief of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said the talks will resume at 6 p.m. at the Caltrans building at 11 Grand Ave. in Oakland but Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said the talks will resume at 6:30 p.m.

Her union represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers and the other union involved in the talks, Service Employees International Union Local 1221, represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers.

Tonight’s bargaining session comes toward the end of the second day of a strike by BART workers represented by the two unions.

Previously, negotiations were halted after union representatives left the table on Sunday, hours before their contracts expired at midnight, Rice said.

Bryant said earlier today that workers were hopeful talks will resume soon.

The strike, which began Monday morning, stems from disputes over issues including wages, health benefits, pension plans and safety.

Rice said management has offered to double salary increases from 4 percent over four years to 8 percent over the same period. He said management has also lowered the amount it was initially asking workers to contribute to pension and health care plans.

Rice said Saturday that the unions had come down from demanding a 23 percent salary increase to a 21 percent increase over a three-year period.

“We had some conversation Sunday night, but we’ve not been able to have a real conversation about our response and our proposal,” Rice said.

Bryant said the workers are asking for a 4.5 percent wage increase annually for three consecutive years.

The unions have agreed to contribute half a percent more to their pension each year, she said.

She said union workers’ pension funds are 92 percent funded by BART, but that BART does not contribute to social security.
She said workers contribute $92 a month toward medical benefits.

Rice said the average annual compensation for workers represented by the two unions, including base salary, benefits and overtime, is about $134,000.

Bryant, a station agent herself, said the average salary of workers in her union is about $60,000 a year.

2:47 PM: BART labor talks will resume this evening, BART management announced this afternoon.

“The district has been notified by state mediators that negotiations will resume at 6 p.m. tonight,” BART spokesman Rick Rice said in a statement.

“After one full day of no meetings, we are eager to get back to the table,” he said.

The talks will take place at the Caltrans building on Grand Avenue in Oakland, Rice said.

The announcement comes on the second day of a strike by BART workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.

Earlier today, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Controller John Chiang and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones sent a letter to BART management and union leaders calling on them to start talking again.

“We are acutely aware of the widespread personal hardship and severe economic disruption caused even by a short interruption in BART service,” the state officials wrote.

They said they were disappointed with the progress in the days leading up to the strike.

“Given the massive dislocation a protracted strike will cause, you owe the people of the Bay Area your time, your concentration and your best good-faith effort at reaching a bargained agreement,” they said. “It is our collective opinion that so far, you have fallen short.”

Negotiations were halted after union representatives left the table on Sunday, hours before their contracts expired at midnight, Rice said.

SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Leah Berlanga and ATU Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said this morning that leaders of the two unions were meeting with each other. Bryant said workers were hopeful talks will resume soon.

“We want to get back to the table,” she said.

The strike, which began Monday morning, stems from disputes over issues including wages, health benefits, pension plans and safety.

Rice said management has offered to double salary increases from 4 percent over four years to 8 percent over the same period. He said management has also lowered the amount it was initially asking workers to contribute to pension and health care plans.

Rice said Saturday that the unions had come down from demanding a 23 percent salary increase to a 21 percent increase over a three-year period.

“We had some conversation Sunday night, but we’ve not been able to have a real conversation about our response and our proposal,” Rice said.

Bryant said the workers are asking for a 4.5 percent wage increase annually for three consecutive years. The unions have agreed to contribute half a percent more to their pension each year, she said.

She said union workers’ pension funds are 92 percent funded by BART, but that BART does not contribute to social security.

She said workers contribute $92 a month toward medical benefits.

Rice said the average annual compensation for workers represented by the two unions, including base salary, benefits and overtime, is about $134,000.

Bryant, a station agent herself, said the average salary of workers in her union is about $60,000 a year.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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  • Anthony J. Alfidi

    Fire BART strikers now. Pay is already too generous. Union greed disrupts the Bay Area economy. http://alfidicapitalblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/fire-all-striking-bart-workers-now.html

    • crystalwolf

      Great article Anthony!!! Fire them all now! Yea! On Fri I wrote the Gov and told him the same thing I said here. Everyone is SICK and tired of their BS. YES FIRE their asses, if they even THINK of striking!

    • crystalwolf

      Did anyone notice the SIGNS in the picture? “Safety first”? AS IF this has ANYTHING to do about safety and not MONEY! LIARS! Fire them all and get new people to do the job. And put a strike clause they will be fired if they disrupt “Safety first” by striking!

  • Anthony J. Alfidi

    Fire BART strikers now. Pay is already too generous. Union greed disrupts the Bay Area economy. http://alfidicapitalblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/fire-all-striking-bart-workers-now.html

    • crystalwolf

      Great article Anthony!!! Fire them all now! Yea! On Fri I wrote the Gov and told him the same thing I said here. Everyone is SICK and tired of their BS. YES FIRE their asses, if they even THINK of striking!

    • crystalwolf

      Did anyone notice the SIGNS in the picture? “Safety first”? AS IF this has ANYTHING to do about safety and not MONEY! LIARS! Fire them all and get new people to do the job. And put a strike clause they will be fired if they disrupt “Safety first” by striking!

  • crystalwolf

    I am pro-union however Anthony is right! Union greed or worker greed! BART should tell them they can strike on their own time, as long as service isn’t disrupted. If they go out they get a three day notice to come back or be fired for job abandonment. BART is part of a public safety and transportation system. Just like Nurses striking can’t shut down hospitals so striking BART workers can’t shut down BART. PERIOD! There are plenty of people out there looking for jobs.

  • crystalwolf

    I am pro-union however Anthony is right! Union greed or worker greed! BART should tell them they can strike on their own time, as long as service isn’t disrupted. If they go out they get a three day notice to come back or be fired for job abandonment. BART is part of a public safety and transportation system. Just like Nurses striking can’t shut down hospitals so striking BART workers can’t shut down BART. PERIOD! There are plenty of people out there looking for jobs.