BART officials and union members returned to the bargaining table Sunday in hopes of averting a work stoppage. Kimberly Tere reports.
BART and union officials headed back to the bargaining table Sunday at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown as the deadline for a threatened strike looms.
Officials with Service Employees International Union 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 155 said they returned to negotiations at 3:30 p.m..
However, they firmly rejected a new economic proposal submitted Saturday that BART officials have said would double the salary increase over four years to 8 percent and reduce employee contributions for pensions and medical benefits.
In a statement, the unions said the "net pay increase" for employees BART said the proposal included would only occur in any given year if a list of six hard-to-meet conditions were fulfilled.
Otherwise, the offer would impose a "net pay cut of thousands of dollars each year," the statement said.
Contracts with BART's two biggest unions, SEIU 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 155, are set to expire Sunday at midnight.
Union members voted earlier this week to authorize a strike that could begin as early as Monday.
Despite the looming deadline, union negotiators walked out of contract talks Saturday afternoon. They called BART management a "no-show," saying they had waited more than 36 hours for the agency to show up at the conference table with a proposal.
BART officials said they had told the union they would have a new economic proposal ready by 5 p.m., but when they submitted it to the mediator at 3:45 p.m., they were told the negotiators had already walked out.
The union had previously asked the governor's office to order a 60-day cooling off period to delay a strike and allow talks to continue. BART officials asked him not to do so, however, and Brown instead asked both sides to return to the table Sunday.
"The governor's office has requested the SEIU to return to the bargaining table and continue talking," BART spokesman Rick Rice said Sunday in a statement.
"BART's team will be available all afternoon and looks forward to getting this done and preventing a strike," Rice said.
Other local officials also urged the parties back to the bargaining table, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
"A strike by a transit agency that carries hundreds of thousands of people every day will not only cause disruptions to loyal BART riders who rely on the system to get to work, go to school and travel around our region, but a strike would negatively impact our entire regional economy," Lee said in a statement.
Lee said that San Francisco would offer increase transportation options in the event of a strike, including at San Francisco International Airport.
Two former BART directors, Dan Richard and Michael Bernick,also
called Sunday for negotiations to continue even past the strike deadline.
In a statement, Richard and Bernick noted that previous negotiations in 1991, 1994 and 2009 have also included strike threats. In those cases the parties kept talking past the deadline and reached a settlement.
The two also called for the state legislature to make changes to the collective bargaining process that leads to repeated transit strike threats.
"The current process is a disservice to Bay Area residents, and over the past negotiations has not resulted in better settlements for the BART workers," Richard and Bernick said.