Unions, BART Do Not Reach Deal Saturday Night

Unions and BART management did not agree on a deal Saturday night, Gov. Jerry Brown says he will call for a 60 day cooling off period

Both sides of the BART labor dispute were back at the bargaining table Saturday for one last try to come up with a deal before Gov. Jerry Brown declares a 60-day cooling off period.

Negotiators met for about 13 hours Saturday, spending the day talking to a mediator. Since they did not come up with a deal by midnight, Gov. Brown says he will seek a court ordered cooling-off period Sunday morning.

BART management and union leaders have said they are committed to talking.

"I urge all parties to think of the public and resolve this matter without delay, but if there’s no resolution by Sunday, I will seek a 60 day cooling-off period,” said Brown in a released statement Friday.

BART and its labor unions have been negotiating since April but appear to remain far apart. 

The governor's move followed a decision by a special board of investigation, appointed by the governor to examine the dispute between union workers and BART management, issued its findings.

The board concluded that "a strike will cause significant harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare."

It also found the "principal issues on which there is no agreement are wages, health benefits, pension contributions, term and certain working conditions."

Brown said if both sides fail to make a deal by Sunday morning, Brown's request will go to the San Francisco Superior Court.

Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow will be asked to rule on the governor’s request and will likely approve it.

BART employees went on strike on July 1, and returned to work four days later and threatened to go on strike again last Monday before Brown intervened late Sunday by calling for the fact-finding panel to investigate the labor dispute.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said management and the labor unions have  been meeting all day Friday and plan to continue to meet throughout the weekend if necessary. Rice said, "We hope to stay at the table and reach an agreement."

Des Patten, a negotiator for BART's largest labor union, Service  Employees International Unit Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics,  custodians and clerical workers, said there "has been some movement" in  contract talks today but the process remains "slow."

Patten said, "We're trying to get a deal before the end of the day on Saturday."

UPDATE: Both sides plan to be back at the negotiating table Sunday as Gov. Brown said he will seek a court-ordered, 60-day cooling-off period Sunday morning.

"The cooling-off period is not in effect yet, and so I think that there's a little pressure on the parties before the governor has to take that step," ATU 1555 Recording Secretary Chris Finn said.

Amalgamated Transit Union Negotiator Antoinette Bryant said a deal needs to happen soon.

"We need a deal by Sunday," Bryant said. "We don't need the riders wondering what the heck is going to happen on October 11. We don't need our members wondering about that. We need to get a deal and all the pieces are in place. We just need to put the puzzle together and get it."

A union negotiator said the two sides are between $56 million and $62 million apart on a four-year contract.

Although the process is moving and both sides have made some progress towards a deal, the governor is expected to make his request for a 60-day cooling-off period Sunday morning. San Francisco Superior Court has already scheduled to hear that request during an emergency session at 9:00 a.m. Sunday.

The hearing will mark the first time the Civic Center Courthouse, which opened in 1998, will open on a weekend to accommodate a hearing.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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