Bay Area Traffic

BART negotiations show no signs of progress

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
BART train. BART passengers. BART train Small progress made in BART talks

BART talks wrapped Tuesday evening with no real sign of progress.

It's now a little more than half way through the court-ordered 60-day cooling-off period and there is growing concern about reaching a deal in time to avoid a strike.

Before bargaining could begin Tuesday, the first matter of business was sorting out how the two sides were arriving at their respective numbers.

Train operator Chris Finn says BART and the unions came up with different total price tags for the same offers.

"So, this morning members of ATU 1555, some members of SEIU 1021 and some members of management, got together; a subcommittee, to sit down and talk about where those numbers come from so we all understand the assumptions. And then we can proceed with some kind of common understanding," he said.

Despite some progress being made on Monday, negotiations seem to be going nowhere on Tuesday. The unions say they're willing to take a 13.5 percent raise and pay more into their pension and medical plans, instead of a 21.5 percent increase over three years they had hoped for.

The unions want a piece of BART's $125 million surplus but transit officials say they can't afford to give up that money due to rising health and pension costs.

"The thing, I think, everybody has to understand is there is still a lot of difference between where we are and where they are. I mean, we cost it out last night; our people were working late into the night. We're talking still, $112-$115 million difference over four years. That's a lot of money," said BART chief negotiator Tom Hock.

"The district is saying, 'We will not change our offer. We're sticking with what we got.' In other words, what they're saying is, 'We don't care about the public. We don't care if the system shuts down,'" said John Arantes of Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

The cooling off period imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown runs out on Thursday, October 10. BART workers can then go on strike Friday, October 11.

Brown says both sides will have to work it out because he can't intervene again.

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BART strike, oakland, BART, unions, SEIU, strike, traffic, transportation, jerry brown, bay area traffic, heather ishimaru
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