By Katharine Fong and Dan Brekke

Pickets during July's BART four-day BART strike. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Pickets during July’s four-day BART strike. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Guide: If There’s a BART Strike, Here Are Your Transit Options

Sunday update: BART, union negotiators return to table with growing cast of public officials in attendance

Update: 10:20 p.m. Saturday: The talks are over for the night. Principal negotiators for both sides left the bargaining site at Caltrans District 4 headquarters. Pete Castelli, an official with SEIU Local 1021, told reporters that members of the union’s costing committee is continuing work on contract details tonight. “Frankly, we have a long day tomorrow,” Castelli said as he left the talks. “We’re going to be back here early in the morning to get back to work.”

Earlier, BART chief negotiator Thomas Hock said the agency had reached a tentative agreement with the SEIU on some of the supplemental issues — details of working conditions, for instance. On the tougher issues, including pay, health benefits and pensions, Hock said the two sides are “still trading ‘supposals.’ ”

Bottom line: We’re once again facing a regional transit strike deadline that’s now a little more than 24 hours away.

Update, 9:15 p.m.: Negotiators for the BART and its unions are taking a dinner break and have made some guardedly optimistic comments about the progress of contract talks since the two sides began their latest bargaining session about 7 p.m. The delay in starting today’s talks (originally advertised as starting at 9:30 a.m.) was due to both sides deciding to meet separately to discuss their contract proposals. Here’s the latest we’re hearing by way of tweets from reporters on the scene:

Update, 5:45 p.m. Saturday: Talks resumed late Saturday afternoon about 7 p.m. Saturday with neither side saying much about how close, or how far, they are from getting to a contract. The talks had been scheduled to begin at 9:30 this morning after adjourning late Friday night; there was no immediate explanation of the delay. BART’s two biggest unions, a unit of SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, served notice Thursday night they’ll strike at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning if there’s no agreement.

The only real news to report: BART General Manager Grace Crunican is reportedly at the talks for a second straight day. Both BART chief negotiator Thomas Hock and Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said Crunican’s presence Friday made a difference in the talks. Here’s the summary from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Cabanatuan:

“She’s listening and asking questions,” said Antonette Bryant, president of the ATU local, as negotiators took a dinner break Friday evening. “She’s trying to get an accurate depiction of what our proposals are and why.”

Thomas Hock, BART’s chief negotiator, said he thought Crunican’s meetings with the unions were useful because they gave the bargaining teams a chance to speak to her directly. As to how that will affect BART’s next proposal, he said: “We’ll talk among ourselves and decide where to go next.”

Unions had been asking for months to have Crunican and the BART Board of Directors be more involved in the negotiations, and union leaders said that having the transit agency’s leadership directly involved was a “significant” change.

A sign of the times:

Update: 2:50 p.m. Friday BART General Manager Grace Crunican is present at the negotiations, as are several unnamed BART board members.

“We believe that these developments can only help bring a resolution to these drawn-out negotiations and for this reason, we will continue bargaining through the weekend,” said SEIU Local 1021 in a statement today.

A short while ago, Pete Castelli, executive director of SEIU Local 2021, emerged from the negotiation table and talked to reporters.

“The elements are in place here today, meaning the general manager is here in the building,” Castelli said. “People are talking. The elected officials – there’s an assemblage of them facilitating. So we still have a long day ahead. But I believe the elements are here today that are needed for the two parties to come together.”

Original post: As of last night and early this morning, BART management and the unions are still far apart on pay and health-care benefits. The two sides are talking, but the unions issued a 72-hour notice of a strike, and a walkout could happen as early as Sunday at midnight.  See our detailed coverage at “BART Trains Running While Negotiations Continue; New Deadline on Sunday.”

This morning, KQED’s Cy Musiker reported on views from both sides.

Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said BART has “not been bargaining in good faith.” She said the unions want to craft a deal, but BART negotiators keep changing their tune, first offering and then withdrawing a “last, best, final offer” yesterday.

“If BART had had its way we would have been on strike with picket signs right now,” Bryant said. “Our union stepped up to the plate and said ‘No, we’re not letting you off the hook — there’s a deal to be made, we care about the riding public and the businesses that are impacted and we’re going to keep you at the table and get this job done.'”

Both Thomas Hock, BART’s chief negotiator, and BART spokesman Jim Allison said the offer was not the “last, best and final,” (a legal term) but the latest offer, and that BART had not presented it to the unions because the unions had said they were not ready to receive it.

Musiker also reports that State Assemblymember Bill Quirk is currently attending the negotiations. Quirk told reporters that at various times other legislators, including state Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Rob Bonta and state Senator Ellen Corbett have been in attendance.

“We’re just here to listen and be a sounding board,” Quirk said. “We’re all here to support negotiations.”

The unions have said that local legislators have been present in negotiations, though they have not disclosed specific names. BART management has been close-mouthed on the topic.

Today, however, BART’s Hock said legislators’ participation “just takes up time that could be used for actual bargaining. It just adds to the theater.”

  • why_not_now

    Why must we all be brought down to Walmat standards?

    Let us bring all up to BART employee standards!

    • Willis James

      Oh sure, every worker should get his full family medical coverage for $92 a month (BTW, that included full dental and vision)
      Never mind that it costs $23,500 for that family policy.
      No, just give it to everyone so we can all get UP to BART union standards.
      Oh yes, and while we’re at it, lets cut the work week to 37.5 hours by paying for all workers lunch hour. That is the BART union standard.
      Oh and while we’re at it, if you work from age 25 and retire at age 65 you are entitled to a 100% pension for life. But great news, you don’t have to contribute anything to the plan. (not even the 6.2% the McDonalds workers pay for Soc. Security.
      So sure, “let us bring ALL up to the BART employee standards”
      BTW, we’ll also have to raise the sales taxes to 37% to pay for all these goodies. You see, special extra sales taxes pay for over 40% of BART’s operating revenue. Without our sales taxes, BART fares would be double or more.

    • Steve Gongos

      Oh, I see, the management receives bloated compensation, so BART union members should receive bloated compensation, too? What a sign of the times. Capitalism run amok, and greed is the status quo. This country is diseased.

      • why_not_now

        You did not answer my question!

        • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

          He won’t either. He is for handcuffing groups. You know what irony. There forming there own group to fight strikes. I would call that a union. That’s irony.

      • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

        How is it amok. Capitalism is all about capital? It’s not amuck. It’s shitty!

  • commuter

    Union asking too much & management raise fare rates. Both are holding commuters hostage. They both don’t care about commuters!!!

  • Sick of the Stress

    The lowest paid BART worker makes $20K more per year than I do. I work full-time (40 hours/ week) and depend on BART to get to work. The strike threats make my life very stressful, and if there actually is a strike, my life will be far more stressful. I find it very hard to sympathize with BART workers.

    • adam

      Find a better job!!!

      • Sick of the Stress

        I like my job. I’m an infant/ toddler teacher.

        • DONALD

          What benefits do you feel you deserve, doing what you do?

    • why_not_now

      Bitter much?

      Corporate america has taken benefits from workers for profit!

      Wake up!

      • Kent London

        And BART unions take money from our pockets. Remeber, it is not corporate America in your talking points. It is unions of 2000 workers doing this for a decade.

        • why_not_now

          Kent, can you say TARP?

          $750 BILLION!

          Can you say AIG over $80 BILLION!

          Wake up!

          http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/19/business/Standing-Still.html?ref=business

          • Kent London

            This is a real, related website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Asset_Relief_Program

            In it, “As of December 31, 2012, the Treasury had received over $405 billion in total cash back on TARP investments, equaling nearly a non-inflation-adjusted 97 percent of the $418 billion disbursed under the program” Remember, this does not count the stocks goverment holds that have not been cashed or redemped yet.
            Your web site was just comparing cost of living, etc. No doubt the middle class is not doing as wel as the rich. But that does not give justification of extorting and gorging the mass (vast majority of Bay area riders and public who pay this highest fare in the nation are not the rich).

          • why_not_now

            Do you feel better now?

            You do know anyone can edit wiki.

          • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

            Kent doesn’t have anything to say at all. It’s the same argument. He is hiding something. Kent it’s 655pm here.

        • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

          Branch again Kent. You still haven’t shared with everyone what you do for a living. I told you. I am going to shred your profession. Man up

    • pew

      Sounds like a personal problem. Get a better job

    • DUCK

      You must become highly skilled, with years of qualified training and years of dedicated experience in the High Tech Industry. Then you will eventually have a better life for your future.

    • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

      What happens when teachers strike? That messes people’s lives up to it are you for that type of strike. Only when it suits you.

  • Steve Gongos

    Payback’s going to be sweet, and eventually there will be enough public support to ban these strikes. Have fun while it lasts, BART union members. This union is just as corrupt as the management, and this kind of thing is NOT what unions were created for. Shouldn’t BART be spelled BRAT?

  • Disgusted

    Why doesn’t anyone address the fact that the workers aren’t doing a great job to begin with? Overall, client service is low, the trains are filthy and the stations are filthy.

    • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

      and who trashes the trains. Puke piss and throw up. Must be the bart workers.

    • DUCK

      Most of us responsible people understand who really demand more in life compared to the ones that settle for very little!!! YOU GET WHAT YOU PUT INTO LIFE, NOT WHAT YOU TAKE FROM IT!!! YOU DO LITTLE YOU GET LITTLE!!! YOU WANT MORE DO MORE!!!

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