BART labor talks in stalemate again

Cindy Chew/The S.F. Examiner file photoA BART train pulls into West Oakland station.

Cindy Chew/The S.F. Examiner file photoA BART train pulls into West Oakland station.

Talks in the BART labor negotiations will take a break until Monday, with the transit agency’s management and its unions still far apart on terms for a new labor contract three weeks before a second strike is possible.

BART and its 3,425 union workers remain unable to come to terms on a new labor contract after the old one expired June 30. Both sides insist they want to avoid a repeat of July’s 4½-day strike, but little progress was made this week.

The acrimony and ill will that’s marked proceedings continued late Wednesday, when union leaders accused management of “walking out” of negotiations without responding to the latest offer.

BART’s workers are requesting 22.5 percent in raises over the next four years, which amounts to roughly $90 million. However, the unions are seeking a three-year contract.

BART is offering 10 percent in raises, or about $40 million in increased wages.

Coupled with differing offers on medical benefits and pension contributions, the two sides are still about $28 million a year apart over a four-year contract, according to management.

BART has a $1.62 billion budget. Labor costs account for $400 million.

BART’s last offer, issued Aug. 10, is described as the transit agency’s “final offer,” according to Ohio-based transit attorney Tom Hock, management’s lead negotiator.

The two sides have three weeks left to negotiate. A 60-day cooling-off period imposed by a judge at Gov. Jerry Brown’s request in August expires Oct. 10.

If no deal is reached by then, BART workers will have a choice: return to work under BART’s final offer or strike in hopes of crafting a better deal.

BART’s unions agreed to $100 million in givebacks in 2009 when the agency projected a $249 million deficit over the next four years. That deficit never materialized, as BART found itself in the black thanks to a quicker-than-expected rebound from the financial crisis.

BART turns a surplus on its operating budget, money that labor says can fund the desired wage increases. BART management says the cash — as well as a bond or a voter-approved tax increase — is needed to pay for capital improvements like new railcars.

No meetings are scheduled today or over the weekend.

Negotiations resume Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. in Oakland, said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant.

Strike and a hard place

Oct. 10: 60-day cooling-off period ends

Monday: Next negotiations resume

21: Days left to negotiate new contract

10: Days on which talks are scheduled

Sources: BART, union proposalsATU Local 1555BART strikeBay Area NewsSEIU Local 1021Transittransportation

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