By Keith Laing
BART workers went on strike for a week in July, crippling transit service in the San Francisco area.
The unions that are representing its employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said they were still ready to strike if a deal could not be reached with BART management by the end of Monday.
“In order to avoid a strike, we agree to continue bargaining for one more day in order for the riders, our workers, and the Bay Area get the resolution to these drawn-out negotiations they deserve,” SEIU 1021 Executive Director Pete Castelli said in a statement.
“We give this notice at this hour so that the public can know that the trains will run tomorrow and that there is no need for them to make alternative commute plans,” Castelli continued. “However, we want to be clear that if we do not have a resolution by midnight tomorrow, we will be forced out on strike.”
Leaders for the unions have said that they were trying to achieve better pay and safer working conditions for BART workers in the contentious negotiations.
Castelli expressed just as much frustration with the possibility of a second strike as Crunican did.
“We are tired and frustrated but, most of all, we are sorry,” Castelli said. “Sorry because we were so close to an agreement.
“Labor and management are both abiding by a media gag order prescribed by the mediator, so I won’t reveal specifics,” he continued. “But I can tell you that our union, SEIU 1021, which represents more than 1,400 maintenance, service and professional employees, has made real progress on the issues of pay, pensions and health care benefits.”
The San Francisco BART system normally trails only New York City's subway, Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail, Chicago's "L" and Boston's "T" subways in daily ridership among U.S. public transportation agencies.