BART talks run past two deadlines

July 22, 2009 6:45:52 PM PDT
The pressure is on as BART and its unions continue trying to resolve their labor dispute. Both sides have set a schedule to keep talking through next week, but after that nobody knows.

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BART trains have continued to run past two deadlines; first the contract expiration on June 30, then the July 9 extension deadline. Now there's another date coming up that both sides realize has its own significance. Now, the negotiations are only on the calendar through July 30.

"I have to think they have every intention of concluding this by the 30th of July. We'd like to do it sooner if possible," says SEIU's chief negotiator Larry Gerber.

"I think the mood at the table right now is somber," says chief BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

Printed reports say BART is more actively considering imposing a contract.

"We've always said, including at my briefings, that having a unilateral adoption of a contract is an option, but it doesn't mean we're going to exercise that option," says Johnson.

"The fact is that we haven't heard that officially," says Gerber.

Gerber came out of retirement to take care of his eighth contract negotiations. He says hearing about BART's intentions in the media does play a role in negotiations.

"Well it has a little effect because you try to figure out if they're trying to give you official information unofficially," says Gerber.

Gerber says the unions have agreed to give both the district and riders 72-hour notice if they strike. BART says to impose a contract would require a public meeting with at least 24 hours notice.

BART is trying to close a $310 million, four-year deficit. It's asking for $100 million in savings through concessions from its unions. Those concessions include both work rule changes and asking employees to pay more for benefits.

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