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BART workers renew threat of striking at midnight

October 17, 2013|By Lee Romney
  • BART workers have renewed a threat to go on strike.
BART workers have renewed a threat to go on strike. (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

OAKLAND — A union leader emerged from talks with Bay Area Rapid Transit leaders to say they are again at an impasse with management and will strike early Friday unless BART’s general manager and board reverse themselves.

Service Employees International Union President Roxanne Sanchez came out of the California Department of Transportation's headquarters around 3:45 p.m. Thursday to say the unions believe “that we were, we are, extremely near to an agreement on the economic proposals.” She said labor “met the BART board and general manager 100%” on pension and health benefit contributions and were very close on salaries. Sticking points involved safety proposals and certain "work rules."

The talks have continued nonstop since Wednesday morning.

Sanchez said the unions had proposed moving all the unresolved issues to an “interest arbitration,” in which an arbitrator would make the final determinations. Such a move would avert a strike, she said, but “I am saddened to inform you that they have refused.”

“Unless the general manager and the BART board stand down from their harsh, entrenched and unjustified position regarding the contract language that reflects the working conditions of the men and women who work for BART or they agree as we have to voluntarily move these unresolved issues to interest arbitration in order to prevent a work stoppage, I must inform the public that as of midnight tonight, we will be on strike,” Sanchez said.

“I’m sorry. I’m regretful,” she said. “We made concessions but you can only bend so far before you break.”

Sanchez thanked the federal mediators for their help and said great progress was made, particularly during the time that BART chief negotiator Tom Hock was away. (He had a speaking obligation at Disneyland.) When Hock returned, she said, the tone shifted.

This marks the sixth strike deadline since late last week for the regional commuter rail system, in negotiations that have dragged on since spring. BART workers went on strike for 4 1/2 days in July.

Management is expected to address media shortly.


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