New BART offer for unions to be presented Saturday at the earliest

AP Photo/Bay Area News Group

BART's general manager met with union leaders in Oakland on Friday but will wait until Saturday to present a new contract proposal as a second strike by the workers looms, an agency spokeswoman said Friday afternoon.

General manager Grace Crunican heard concerns from union officials and was “trying to get some feedback on what it's going to take to get to a deal,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

“We're just listening and having a larger discussion,” Trost said.

Trost said a new contract offer that BART officials had previously planned to present today — the details of which have been withheld at the request of a federal mediator — would now be presented Saturday at the soonest.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 spokesman Des Patten said today's talks seemed productive and involved an informal exchange of ideas.

Patten said Crunican has asked union leaders to explain their positions and concerns and to outline details of their last proposal to her.

“She hasn't said when they might present us with anything but I would characterize it as a positive move, and hopefully it will lead to a positive end,” Patten said.

“But we'll see,” he added.

BART management began negotiating on April 1 with SEIU Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers.

At the end of a 60-day cooling-off period ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown, the unions announced late Thursday night that they would postpone a potential strike, but issued a 72-hour strike notice that will expire at the end of Sunday.

The workers previously went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July but returned to the bargaining table at the request of Brown.

Earlier today, union officials described Crunican's decision to join the talks as a positive development. In addition, they said many elected officials and BART board members are now getting involved.

“We believe these developments can only help bring a resolution to these drawn-out negotiations and for this reason, we will continue bargaining through the weekend,” officials with SEIU Local 1021 said in a statement.

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