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Latest News - October 2013

October 11, 2013
New offer for BART unions provides glimmer of hope in talks
Tom Vacar

The chief negotiator for the San Francisco Bay Area rapid transit agency on Thursday said he will present a new offer to two of its unions as the stark possibility of a second transit strike in less than three months looms.

Negotiator Thomas Hock says that the BART board has given him the authority to present the offer to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 as bargaining resumes Thursday afternoon, just hours before a 60-day, state-mandated cooling off period expires at midnight.

Hock would not comment on the specifics of the proposal but says the parties are still "a lot of millions" apart.

Earlier Thursday, the BART Board of Directors met in open and closed sessions to discuss current offers on the table and contingencies if unions strike.

Union members addressed the board to blame it, its negotiators and news organizations for the difficulties in the contract talks.

"BART management has cleverly used its influence with the media to do all these despicable things to its workers, holding them up as lazy, unskilled and overpaid liabilities," said longtime BART worker Daniel Morida.

The plain fact is that both sides, including the unions, that have regularly used the media to trash BART'S negotiator, general manager and board, all the while holding themselves blameless.

As a courtesy, the unions generally give a 72-hour notice before striking. But the deadline is at midnight. KTVU asked the unions point blank Thursday afternoon if they would give notice before they went strike.

"Well I can't tell you exactly how much notice we'll be able to provide, because we are working arduously to avoid a strike," said SEIU Union Chief Negotiator Josie Mooney. But we will give the public notice."

The BART Board of Directors approved as much as $400,000 a day to charter buses. Initially, BART expects to pay about $250,000 a day, each bus at $1500 a day. Nine East Bay stations will be served by as many as two-hundred buses.

"Our best guess is we can serve about 6,000 people, said BART's spokeswoman Alicia Trost. It possibly could be more if we can figure out some efficiencies and on how to load people on to those buses."

ATU President Antonette Bryant said the unions are anxious to look at the agency's new proposal, and they remain optimistic about reaching a deal.



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