BART Strike Day 3, Talks Resume - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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BART Strike Day 3, Talks Resume



    BART Strike Day 3, Talks Resume

    BART contract negotiations resumed Wednesday afternoon. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Wednesday, July 3, 2013)

    BART on Wednesday night announced it has received no indication striking unions will return to work Thursday, and commuters should continue to make alternative transportation plans.

    Negotiations resumed earlier in the day at 1 p.m. The unions and management were urged to get together by high-ranking state leaders.

    BART apologized for all the commuting headaches, but again, blamed the unions for the problems.

    "We are sorry that the actions of ATU and SEIU have caused such a tremendous disruption to the people of the Bay Area," BART said in a statement. "We are working hard to bring a fair and responsible resolution to labor talks."

    Meanwhile, Bay Area commuters faced Day 3 of the strike on Wednesday, with long lines of traffic starting earlier than usual.

    BART in response upped its charter bus service - more than 70 buses up from 56 - from select BART stations to San Francisco. Noise from those buses drew the ire of some West Oakland residents.

    VIDEO: Commuters Hop on Chartered Buses

    The stations are West Oakland, El Cerrito Del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont stations. It is recommended to arrive early as the buses fill up quickly, officials said.

    Labor talks resumed Tuesday evening at the request of California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown said.

    Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown, said, "All parties are returning to the bargaining table tonight. To facilitate discussion between BART and its unions, the state is sending in two of its top mediators."

    He identified them as Anita Martinez, the chair of the Public Employment Relations Board, and Loretta van der Pol, the chief of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service.

    Earlier in the day, BART announced it had reached a tentative agreement with one of the striking unions -- AFSCME Local 3993, which represents more than 200 members who serve as supervisorial and professional staff for the agency.

    BART spokesman Rick Rice said the talks resumed at 6 p.m. at the Caltrans building at 11 Grand Ave. in Oakland but Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said the talks resumed at 6:30 p.m.

    Her union represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers and the other union involved in the talks, Service Employees International Union Local 1221, represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers.

    Tuesday's bargaining session comes toward the end of the second day of a strike by BART workers represented by the two unions.

    VIDEO: How Long Does it Take to Get to Bay Bridge?

    Previously, negotiations were halted after union representatives left the table on Sunday, hours before their contracts expired at midnight, Rice said.

    Bryant said earlier on Tuesday that workers were hopeful talks would resume soon.

    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 compensation 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.