OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The region appeared to be headed for another Bay Area Rapid Transit Strike after BART management on Wednesday suddenly called off contract talks for the rest of the week.
BART’s two leading unions, the Service Employees International Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union, said they had offered to continue bargaining every day until a cooling off period imposed by California Gov. Jerry Brown ends on Oct. 10.
But the unions claim BART’s chief negotiator Thomas Hock has rejected daily talks and instead said BART management would only meet with the unions for ten of the 22 remaining days in the cooling off period.
On Monday, both unions offered a counter-proposal to management, calling for a 4.5% annual wage increase – or 13.5% over three years. Workers also offered to pick up the cost of paying their own pensions in increasing installments, and to start making premium payments for family medial coverage.
BART contends the two sides are still $112 million apart.
BART spokesman Jim Allison disputed Wednesday’s union claim that management had “walked out” of the contract talks.
“We’re willing to negotiate. The calendar calls for another set (of talks) to begin Monday,” he told KPIX 5. “To say we walked away is not correct. We’re willing to negotiate, we want to get a deal done.”
But Allison added that he saw no reason to meet again before next week unless there is more significant movement from the unions.
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