OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Bay Area Rapid Transit labor talks broke down on Saturday and union officials declared, despite having another day before their contract runs out, that there would be a strike. The move leaves hundreds of thousands of commuters potentially stranded for Monday’s commute to work.
“We want to let riders know that we are giving them notice we will be on strike effective (Sunday) evening,” Josie Mooney, the chief negotiator for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, told KPIX 5. “We do this with regret, but we no longer think it is fair to keep the public not knowing if there’s going to be a strike, or no strike.”
Antoinette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said in an e-mailed statement to CBS San Francisco that the two unions walked out of Saturday’s negotiations after 40 hours without any substantive new proposals from BART management; she claimed BART negotiators were only actually at the bargaining table for 10 minutes during that entire time – calling them a “no-show.”
BART spokesman Rick Rice said management delivered a new economic proposal to a state mediator late Saturday afternoon, and were “disappointed” to learn that the unions had walked away from the negotiation site in Oakland.
“We had been preparing a proposal, it was ready around a quarter to four. We called the mediator to come up and receive it, he came up, notified us the unions had left,” Rice told KPIX 5.
He said the new proposal from BART increased the salary offer and reduced the amount employees would contribute to their pensions and health care.
Rice said the agency still had a meeting scheduled with the unions on Sunday, but Mooney said the unions had no plans to meet with BART. Mooney added that both unions no longer think they can no longer resolve all the bargaining issues before Sunday night’s strike deadline, which is when the current contracts expire.
The two sides have been described as “far apart” on issues that include salary, pensions, health care and safety.
Before talks collapsed Saturday, the unions were said to be seeking a 5 percent raise each year for three years, while BART was offering a 1 percent raise a year for four years.
As many as 400,000 commuters use BART each day, including 96,000 who travel across the San Francisco Bay using the Transbay Tube during peak commute hours.
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