BART, unions running out of time as 2nd strike looms

BART train car.
July 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Bay Area Rapid Transit and its unions are running out of time to reach a deal to stop another strike that could happen as early as next week.

On July 4, negotiators agreed to extend the old contract for one month -- ending a five-day strike that crippled the Bay Area's commute. The deadline on that extension expires this Sunday, August 4 unless significant progress is made.

Monday, a group of protesters interrupted a conference in San Francisco attended by BART General Manager Grace Crunican. It was yet another sign of the animosity between BART management and its unions.

BART has warned its passengers if the unions get the pay increase they are demanding, large fare hikes are expected.

With time running out, both sides will sit down Tuesday and attempt to hammer out an agreement by Sunday.

"We'll get back and make progress just as quick as we can," said BART spokesperson Rick Rice.

"What we're afraid of is that we only have now, four more days. And we're very concerned that the issues are complicated, they're big, they divide us," said SEIU lead negotiator Josie Mooney.

Several newspaper reports have pointed out that most BART workers earn more than employees from any other of the 25 largest government agencies in the Bay Area. Meanwhile, negotiations on the issue of salaries and benefits have been stagnant. BART's lead negotiator has been criticized by the unions for missing several meeting due to a prior commitment.

Passengers are now preparing for a possible strike.

"It is, kind of, frustrating for me the second time around. It really is. I thought, maybe they would be able to hammer things out and settle it. So, you know, this kind of just prolongs the agony for me," said BART rider Ray Jocson.

"There's a number of people that commute in my company, so, you know, it kind of divides the office when that happens," said BART rider Aaron Friedman.

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