BART Union Strike Looms As Negotiations Continue

San Francisco, CA — The BART strike loomed on Sunday night after the transit system’s two biggest unions left negotiation talks with the transit agency’s management.

After leaving negotiations, the union leaders explained that no progress had been made and they will decide whether or not to strike at midnight.

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost stated Sunday evening that the transit agency is willing to negotiate all night and even extend talks, in order to avoid a strike. However, Union negotiator Leopoldo Ruiz, isn’t sure the two sides can come to an agreement. Ruiz explained:

“We’re very far apart, we’re very far apart. We’re coming to meet because we’ve never given up, the district gave up on us. We were at the table for a day and a half, a day and a half, and the district never showed up during that day and a half.”

Talks to avert the BART unions’ strike stalled on Thursday and Sunday was the first formal meeting between the two sides since Thursday. Negotiator Antonette Bryant added that BART’s latest offer, which was presented on Friday, was insulting to the unions. She explained:

“The actual offer is one percent … The additional one percent each year is based on conditions that are not only preposterous, they’re penalizing our members.”

The two unions involved represent 2,378 train operators, stations agents, mechanics, maintenance workers, and professional staff in the BART system.

The union negotiators also walked out of negotiations on Saturday afternoon, saying that a strike was essentially inevitable. They added that they were waiting for district negotiators to present a promised proposal for almost two days. They later received the proposal by email and were less than pleased with it.

The last BART strike took place in 1997 and lasted six days. There are an average of 400,000 passengers on the transit system each day, meaning that a strike would have a huge impact on commuter traffic on Monday. In order to ease the commuter impact should the strike take place, BART will offer free weekday roundtrip bus service to San Francisco from four BART stations: El Cerrito Del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Fremont.

[Image via ShakataGaNai]