The Bay Area’s Monday commute won’t be affected by a BART strike, but workers make no promises about Tuesday.
Antonette Bryant, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) president for Local 1555, said BART will run tomorrow as usual and negotiations will continue through tomorrow night. However, if a decision is not reached by midnight Tuesday, BART workers are promising a strike.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, BART management made an offer to the unions that will remain on the table for two weeks and is described as the “last final offer,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican. The offer included a 3% raise per year for four years– that would mean a total 12%, with 4% for pension and 9.5% for medical.
The offer, according to Crunican, is $7 million more than Friday night’s offer.
As Crunican walked away from the podium during the press conference, BART workers yelled, “That’s bullshit!” at her retreating figure.
“They offered us a last, best final offer,” Bryant said. “And then they said there was nothing to discuss. We had open proposal we had ready to discuss. It was very disheartening.”
The decision to not strike reflects the erosion of public support for BART workers as a result of the threat to strike and frustration with the drawn-out decision-making process. Polls show public support for management’s offer by a two-to-one margin and disdain for further complications.
“We’re tired and frustrated, but most of all we’re sorry,” said Pete Castelli, executive director of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, which represents BART mechanics and other workers. “The trains will run tomorrow. However, we want to be clear, if we don’t have a resolution by midnight tomorrow, we will be forced out on strike.”
Castelli said “work rules” are the continued area of dispute.
The weekend’s negotiations were a postponement of the original Thursday deadline. Gov. Jerry Brown had ordered a 60-day cooling-off period after the last BART strike in July, the end of which was Thursday midnight. When the dispute still was not settled, the unions agreed to continue negotiations through the weekend, but warned workers would strike Monday if nothing was decided by midnight Sunday.
Last year, the average in-line BART worker earned $76,500 in gross pay. Their pay is in the top ranks of California transit agencies and workers pay a flat rate of $92-per-month for health insurance.
“Our members don’t want to go on strike, but we are being backed in a corner,” Bryant said. “The district will not bargain with us.”
Bryant called the attitudes around the table “reprehensible” and said the unions have a vested interest in the community that is not compromised by the decision to strike if no deal is reached in 24 hours.
“We’ve done everything that we can do,” Bryant said. “We could have walked out a long time ago and not come back, but we care about the Bay Area.”
Contributing reporters: Yolanda Martinez and Jason Paladino