Last-Ditch BART Labor Talks Resume At Governor’s Request
OAKLAND (CBS SF) — With a strike looming, the two largest unions representing over 2,300 Bay Area Rapid Transit workers resumed talks with BART management Sunday afternoon at the request of California Gov. Jerry Brown in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal.
Contracts were set to expire at midnight for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
On Saturday, union officials had declared there would be a Monday morning strike after contract negotiations apparently broke down.
Brown, who could opt to impose a 60-day cooling off period to avert a strike that would leave hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters without transportation to work, said Sunday that he had no plans to do so.
Instead, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an e-mail to CBS San Francisco that the governor had asked both sides to return to the bargaining table right away, aided again by state mediators.
“BART and its labor unions owe the public a swift resolution of their differences,” Westrup said. “All parties should be at the table doing their best to find common ground.”
As negotiations resumed Sunday afternoon at the state office building in Oakland, the two sides still seemed far apart.
“You have given us no reason to believe that meeting today would be remotely productive,” the unions wrote to BART representatives in a letter that was sent Sunday morning before the governor’s nudge back to the bargaining table.
BART spokesman Rick Rice told CBS San Francisco on Sunday that the transit agency’s latest offer to the unions “doubled its salary increase proposal to 8%.”
However, ATU Local 1555 president Antonette Bryant maintained those wage increases were being totally offset by BART proposals to increase employee pension contributions and medical insurance payments.
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