No BART strike Monday, still possible for Tuesday

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(BCN) BART officials said an offer presented to unions this afternoon is $7 million higher than one made Friday, and that it represents the agency’s last, best and final offer.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said the agency is offering employees a 3 percent raise for each year of the four-year contract, retroactive to July 5.

The contract also calls for employees to make a 4 percent pension contribution and 9.5 percent medical contribution.

The latest contract offer also comes with a deadline. BART hasgiven the union two weeks from today to accept, before the deal is taken off the table, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

Union leaders dismissed the offer today as “regressive,” saying it was lower than previous offers and left their members with left. They extended their previous strike deadline by one day, to midnight Tuesday, but warned that members would strike if BART did not return to the table ready to negotiate.

“We regret that this action needs to be taken but we have done everything we can do to bargain fairly,” said Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555. “Our members don’t want to go on strike, but we are being backed into a corner.”

Bryant blasted BART leadership for what she called “dishonesty” and an “obvious lack of respect for the members and for the riding public.”

State elected officials includingAssemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, and state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, also criticized BART leadership this evening, but urged both sides to continue negotiating.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said that she was “disappointed” by BART’s actions today and wanted talks to continue.

“We want discussions to keep going, we want both sides to get to yes,” Skinner said, speaking outside the building where labor talks are taking place.

“We are asking labor to take more time, and we want BART to withdraw that final offer so that the talks can keep going,” Skinner said.

Tonight’s angry language marks a shift from the more positive tone of Saturday’s talks, which BART officials called “productive.” Union and elected officials including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom had expressed optimism earlier today that a deal was possible.

BART management began negotiating on April 1 with the ServiceEmployees International Union Local 1021, which represent which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and ATU Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers.

Workers went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July but returned to the bargaining table at the request of Gov. JerryBrown.

When a strike again seemed imminent, Brown sought a 60-day cooling-off period, which expired last week. The unions announced late Thursday night that they would postpone a potential strike, but issued a 72-hour strike notice.

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