BART and unions agree on pensions; talks continue

October 3, 2013 8:48:05 PM PDT
BART and its unions are talking about the major areas of wages, pension and medical benefits. They were tens of millions of dollars apart, but there has been some movement. Is it enough to prevent a strike next week?

We've heard the same lines before from BART's unions who say they don't want to strike and BART officials who say they want to keep the trains running. However, on Thursday there was something we haven't heard before.

"They should have no problem agreeing to our latest proposal which we presented last night. So we're expecting an agreement," said Antonette Bryant, the ATU Local 1555 president.

"We do appreciate the offer that's been made by the unions. We've been working hard since we received the offer to look at the cost of it and to see what we might say in response," said BART spokesperson Jim Allison.

The previous offer had BART and the unions $100 million apart. Neither side is saying how much the latest union offer might have closed that gap. In it, the workers lowered their base pay proposal to increases below 20 percent over three years with a provision for more if ridership soars.

"This is our third proposal in just about as many days and we are counting on the fact that BART will change its bargaining stance and decide to give us a counter proposal," said Josie Mooney, the SEIU Local 1021 chief negotiator.

BART has not budged on its wage offer of about a 10-percent increase over a of four-year deal.

"On wages we have not received a new proposal from them since the cooling off period began," said Mooney.

"We're still split on a four-year contract versus a three-year contract and that's very important to us," said Allison.

There is no end-time scheduled for negotiations on Thursday night. They are supposed to be back on Friday as the possibility of a strike looms one short week away.

Riders tell us they just want this all to be over.

"Just make a deal already, that's all," Berkeley resident Bud Doronio said. "So, get it over with, we've had enough I think."

"I'm following it well enough to know that things are not looking very well," Albany resident Matt Petrik said. "And I also am suffering from BART strike fatigue."

ABC7 News' Amy Hollyfield contributed to this report.


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