No New Labor Talks as BART Strike Enters Day 2

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As the BART strike stretched into its second day, a BART spokesman said this morning that there are still no new negotiations scheduled between the transit agency's management and its employee unions.

However, BART spokesman Rick Rice and union officials both said they would like to get back to the bargaining table today. "We're reaching out," Rice said. Negotiations were halted after representatives from Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 left the table on Sunday, hours before their contracts expired at midnight, Rice said.

Rice said that after Sunday's failed meeting at Caltrans offices in Oakland, it was decided that the next negotiations should take place in a new location, but BART officials don't know where -- or when -- the next bargaining session will happen.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said both sides are in Oakland this morning and "they are both ready to talk." SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Leah Berlanga and ATU Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said the two unions are meeting this morning, but there's no word on a sit-down with BART.

"We haven't seen management in days," Berlanga said this morning. Bryant said workers are hopeful talks will resume soon. "We want to get back to the table," she said.

The strike, which began Monday morning, stems from disputes over issues including wages, health benefits, pension plans and safety. Rice said management has offered to double salary increases from 4 percent over four years to 8 percent over the same period.

He said management has also lowered the amount it was initially asking workers to contribute to pension and health care plans. Rice said Saturday that the unions had come down from demanding a 23 percent salary increase to a 21 percent increase over a three-year period.

"We had some conversation Sunday night, but we've not been able to have a real conversation about our response and our proposal," Rice said. Bryant said the workers are asking for a 4.5 percent wage increase annually for three consecutive years.

The unions have agreed to contribute half a percent more to their pension each year, she said. She said union workers' pension funds are 92 percent funded by BART, but that BART does not contribute to social security.

She said workers contribute $92 a month toward medical benefits. Rice said the average annual take-home for workers represented by the two unions, including base salary, benefits and overtime, is about $134,000. Bryant, a station agent herself, said the average salary of workers in her union is about $60,000 a year.

 

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