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BART spokesperson Alicia Trost

No BART strike, but still no deal on Tuesday night

on October 16, 2013

Transit officials and labor unions failed to reach a deal Tuesday night over a possible BART strike but will continue talks on Wednesday. Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 1555 announced on Twitter shortly after 10pm that there would be no strike on Wednesday. “No deal has been reached yet but our negotiations team is still working,” the group also tweeted.

Not long after, federal mediator George Cohen emerged from the CalTrans building to confirm the information. “Trains will be running on Wednesday,” Cohen said, adding, “We are putting all our energy into these negotiations.”

Alicia Trost, the spokeswoman for BART, had come out earlier and mingled with BART workers and the press before heading home. “We need to implement a Zen room,” she said of the stressful atmosphere on the 13th floor.

The threat of a BART strike began to loom for commuters last Thursday, October 10, the day that 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 still 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 claimed the offer was $7 million higher than previous proposals and included a 12 percent total raise for employees over the course of 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 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, spokesman Clarence Johnson confirmed that the bus line has asked Governor Brown for a 60-day cooling-off period of its own before a strike could take place.

Rufus Jeffris, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Council, said a BART strike alone would likely cost the Bay Area $73 million per day if it does happen.

Max Levenson and Jennifer Chaussee contributed reporting for this story.

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