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Federal Mediator George Cohen, middle, said progress has been made. Photo by Jennifer Chaussee.

BART strike averted for fifth time

on October 16, 2013

Despite the constant threat of transit strikes, all trains will be running as normal tomorrow and negotiations will continue once more for BART workers’ contracts.

BART riders continue to experience frustration with the lack of certainty facing their morning commute. One Twitter user referred to it as: “BART: Bay Anxiously Refreshing Twitter.”

Federal mediator George Cohen said talks will continue “through the night” and trains will definitely run tomorrow.

“Negotiations have been continuing. The parties are totally engaged,” Cohen said. “Progress has been made, and the parties have authorized me, as they have on the two prior nights, that in their interest and the good of the public, the trains will be running tomorrow.”

The threat of a BART strike began last Thursday, October 10, which marked the end of a 60-day cooling-off period imposed by Governor Brown after the last strike, in July. BART workers did not strike on Friday, but the agreement to continue negotiations through the weekend left commuters hanging, uncertain whether trains would be running on Monday and Tuesday.

Since then, negotiations have become a nail-biting affair, with unions and management arguing late into the night. Statements from officials hinted at progress on Sunday, raising hopes of a resolution, but talks soon deteriorated.

On Sunday, BART management made its “last, best and final offer,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican in a formal statement.

Crunican said the offer was $7 million higher than previous proposals and included a 12 percent total raise for employees over four years. However, union officials rejected the deal.

Antonette Bryant, president of the ATU local 1555, said that BART workers did not want to go on strike but were “backed in a corner.”

AC Transit workers also were prepared to begin their own strike on Thursday, which would have left those who depend on BART and bus for transportation with virtually no way to get around. However, the bus line asked Governor Brown for a 60-day cooling-off period of its own before a strike could take place.  Wednesday afternoon, the governor called on an investigative board to look into the dispute and determine if such a cooling off period is needed.

The possibility of a strike is costing BART $200,000 per day in buses that are on hold in case the trains don’t run.


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