BART workers to return to work as negotiations continue; trains may run by 3pm


Earlier on Thursday outside the negotiations, there were loud complaints from the unions and calls for BART's general manager to bargain with them face to face.

"BART wants to impose, BART wants to force a contract, they want to keep us out on strike, they think the public's going to completely turn and that's the card they're playing," SEIU negotiator Pete Castelli said.

The unions claim BART is trying to break them, and seems willing to wait them out on demands for 4.5 percent per year salary increase over three years and greater safety measures throughout the system.

BART's latest offer is 2 percent per year for four years and increased employee contributions to both health care and pension costs.

Union members realize their demands may not play with the public, especially those looking for work.

"The public needs to understand that there's jobs out there but it takes a lot to be certified to work for Bay Area Rapid Transit; you have to have a lot of certification and a lot of training," striking BART worker Manuel Vega said.

The unions also want BART General Manager Grace Crunigan to take a seat at the bargaining table. They chanted, "Where's Grace, Where's Grace?" at one rally Thursday afternoon.

"I've bargained this contract and many other contracts many times before and never has a general manager failed to come to the bargaining table and negotiate a great deal," union negotiator Josie Mooney said.

"The general manager has been engaged with both the negotiating team and the mediators and this is the approach that we're taking," BART spokesperson Rick Rice said. "It's not unusual. If and when the time is necessary for her to be here, she will be here."

Strike forces revelers to alter 4th of July plans

The strike has forced some people to alter their Fourth of July plans because getting in and of San Francisco for the annual fireworks show was going to be much more difficult than usual.

Since BART trains are not running, that meant a lot of people from the East Bay who would have gone to San Francisco may be staying closer to home instead. As a result, crews at the Berkeley Marina are planning for a bigger show than usual this year.

Last Fourth of July BART handled 182,000 riders. Many of them also used Muni to get close to the fireworks. Muni is adding some trains and shuttles, but is treating this as a normal Fourth of July, even with the strike.

BART was not offering shuttle service to San Francisco for the 4th of July firework show, but they did offer limited shuttle service to the city for the morning commute. Starting at 6 a.m., three buses with a 50-person capacity transported people to San Francisco from the El Cerrito del Norte, Walnut Creek, W. Oakland, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Fremont stations.

For the afternoon commute, three buses will depart from the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco starting at 4 p.m. going back to those same five East Bay stations.

Riders told ABC7 News that yes, it's a holiday, but they still need to work. "This is kind of a hassle just because it's not so much of a schedule," David Kerrigan said. "It's very hard to find when the buses are coming to pick you up."

Riders said they were very glad buses were running Thursday but acknowledged that they really miss riding BART.

Stay with ABC7NEWS.COM for updates on the BART strike and information on how to get around while the trains aren't running. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and download our news app for the latest news whenever and wherever you want.

ABC7 News reporters John Alston, Laura Anthony, and Nick Smith contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.