BART Unions: Strike Will Happen Tuesday If An Agreement Isn’t Reached Today

Negotiators for BART and its labor unions returned to the bargaining able today to try once again to agree on a new contract and avert a strike.

Cecille Isidro, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, said the two sides are meeting face to face but said she couldn’t discuss the details of the talks because a federal mediator has asked the parties not to.

BART representatives weren’t immediately available for comment this morning.

Members of SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, had threatened to go on strike today if an agreement wasn’t reached
by midnight on Sunday.

But late Sunday, union leaders extended their strike deadline by 24 hours, to midnight tonight.

BART officials said an offer they presented to the unions on Sunday is worth $7 million more than the one they made Friday, and represents the transit agency’s last, best and final offer in the contract talks, which began April 1.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said management is offering employees a 3 percent raise for each year of the four-year contract, retroactive to July 5.

The contract also calls for employees to make a 4 percent pension contribution and a 9.5 percent contribution to their health benefits, Crunican said.

However, union leaders maintain that BART’s latest contract proposal is worth less than previous offers, calling it “regressive.”

BART workers went on strike for several days at the beginning of July but returned to the bargaining table at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown eventually sought a 60-day cooling-off period, which was granted by a judge but expired at midnight last Thursday.

Talks have continued past that deadline, however, and Bay Area residents are continuing to head to bed each work night not knowing whether BART will be running for their morning commutes.

The unions are now saying they will go on strike on Tuesday if an agreement isn’t reached today.

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