Contract negotiations resumed today between BART and its two biggest unions as both sides worked to avoid a midnight strike that would cripple the Bay Area commute.
Union officials, BART leaders and elected representatives converged on Caltrans headquarters in Oakland this morning, where negotiations picked up after a “productive.” round of talks on Saturday.
Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said she was cautiously optimistic that today’s negotiations would end in a deal. She said her union’s members were still prepared to strike at midnight should BART fail to meet its workers on key issues, including salaries and health benefit contributions.
“We are hopeful that we will get a deal today,” Bryant said. “But we have not spent this much time at the table to take something that is not going to benefit our members and the riding public. That is not acceptable.”
BART management began negotiating on April 1 with the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represent which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and ATU Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers.
Workers went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July but returned to the bargaining table at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.
When a strike again seemed imminent, Brown sought a 60-day cooling-off period, which expired last week. The unions announced late Thursday night that they would postpone a potential strike, but issued a 72-hour strike notice.
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