BART, unions continue negotiating; now $89 million apart


The cooling off period that was ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown ends next week on Thursday. That means the earliest a strike could begin is next Friday. It's with that deadline hanging over them that negotiators continue to slog it out.

"The good news is we are at the table, we're exchanging ideas and proposals," BART spokesperson Jim Allison said. "The bad news is we're still $89 million dollars apart from what the union is demanding and what BART's able to afford."

BART made its last offer on Aug. 10. Since then, the unions have made three proposals. The latest was Wednesday night. In it, they came down on wages, asking for 11 percent over three years. BART has held firm at about 10 percent over a longer deal of four years.

The unions say that BART arrives at the $89 million gap by giving their raise to all BART employees, not just those represented by these two unions.

"Overall, it's unfortunate that if they would just cost it with the two unions, maybe we'd be closer to reaching an agreement," said Saul Almanza with SEIU Local 1021.

It's not clear by how much that would reduce the gap.

"I don't know what the figure would be, but it would be nowhere near what they're saying," Almanza said.

And what about the gap in contract length, BART wants four years and the unions want three. That's because there are four BART directors up for re-election in three years, which could help the unions.

"If this was contract time and our contract ended, their feet would be held more to the fire," said Antonette Bryand with ATU Local 1555

BART's spokesperson acknowledges the election is a factor and, "Plus I think everyone in the Bay Area agrees we don't want to increase the frequency of the drama that we have when we have to negotiate these contracts," said Allison.

Talks are not currently scheduled for Saturday, but that could change. It's up to the mediator.

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