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BART Talks Resume; No New Strike Notice Set

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A sign is posted outside of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Rockridge station on August 2, 2013 in Oakland, California. San Francisco Bay Area commuters are bracing for the possibility of a BART strike as a 30-day contract extension is set to expire on August 4 at midnight. Unions representing BART workers announced a 72-hour notice of intent to strike yesterday as BART management and union officials continue to negotiate a new contract. An estimated 400,000 people ride BART each day. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A sign is posted outside of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Rockridge station in Oakland. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Negotiators for Bay Area Rapid Transit and its labor unions resumed negotiations Tuesday afternoon, just hours after marathon negotiations that ended during Tuesday morning’s commute.

Contract talks began in April but so far BART management has been unable to reach an agreement with its two largest unions.

The stalemate resulted in a four-and-a-half-day strike at the beginning of July and has come close to causing a strike on several other occasions, including Tuesday.

Leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, had said they would go on strike Tuesday if an agreement hadn’t been reached by the end of the day on Monday.

No new strike deadline has been set by BART’s unions. Monday’s talks went well past the midnight deadline until 5:30 a.m. with no word from either side on progress.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission Spokesman John Goodwin said they are working with other agencies to try to pick up some of the slack if needed, but the main thing they’re asking people to do if trains stop running is to telecommute.

“The fact is if there is a BART strike, and heaven forbid both a BART and AC Transit strike, not everybody is going to be served by the alternative. BART’s capacity simply cannot be replaced by other transit agencies,” he said.

If telecommuting isn’t possible he suggested staggering work hours to avoid peak times on the road if that doesn’t work, he said to be prepared for gridlock on the roadways.

Negotiations continued past the midnight deadline, and shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday federal mediator George Cohen said trains would indeed be running this morning and that BART and union representatives would continue their talks.

SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Cecille Isidro said she can’t discuss the details of the negotiations because Cohen has asked both sides not to talk about them to the media.

A spokesman for BART was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.

On Sunday, BART management made what it described as its last, best and final offer to employees, saying that the offer includes a 12 percent increase over four years but also requires workers to make a 4 percent contribution to their pension costs and a 9.5 percent contribution to their health benefits.

Union officials said Monday night that they made a counteroffer to management but could not share details.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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