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BART, unions announce end to four-day Bay Area transit strike

October 21, 2013|By Lee Romney and Maura Dolan
  • Traffic crawls past idle BART tracks along California 24 in Lafayette, Calif., on Monday.
Traffic crawls past idle BART tracks along California 24 in Lafayette,… (Kristopher Skinner / MCT )

OAKLAND -- Bay Area Rapid Transit management and union leaders emerged from negotiations late Monday to announce an end to the four-day regional rail strike, which sent hundreds of thousands of commuters scrambling to find alternatives to the 104-mile system.

The strike by BART's two largest unions stung its 400,000 weekday ridership more sharply Monday than it had on Friday, as residents who had taken a long weekend or worked from home scrambled for buses, ferries and carpools -- or sat for hours in gridlocked traffic.

Officials had said earlier in the afternoon that talks had resumed but noted that a resolution would be needed by 6 p.m. in order to get trains running for Tuesday morning's commute. The settlement announcement came shortly after 10 p.m.

No details were immediately available on the settlement agreement or when trains would resume running. One BART official said, however, that he hoped the trains would be running by Tuesday afternoon.

The BART strike is the second to hamper travel and commerce in the region since July, when a 4 1/2-day walkout was bought to a close by the intervention of Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown later called for a 60-day cooling-off period, which ended Oct. 10 and was followed by a nail-biting series of strike deadlines that came and went last week.

Federal mediators arrived from Washington to press for resolution and by all accounts brought the sides much closer together. But negotiations nevertheless crumbled Thursday, and the strike was called.

Management and the two unions -- Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 -- had agreed on pension and healthcare contributions and came close on salary. But other issues pertaining to working conditions had remained unresolved.

The mood took an even more somber turn Saturday afternoon, when Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward, and Laurence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks, were struck and killed by a BART train as they inspected a dip in the tracks between Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. The train was being operated by a trainee -- who was among a group of managers that BART was preparing to run operations in the event of a prolonged strike.

The deaths seemed to propel talks forward, and they resumed Monday under the guidance of federal mediator Greg Lim.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom were seen entering the building where negotiations were being held, and Quan promised a "great" announcement to come. 


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Twitter: @leeromney

Twitter: @mauradolan

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