BART’s unions called off a strike for the fourth time in less than a week as the two sides continue to try to hammer out a deal. Around 10:30 PM on Tuesday night, federal mediator George Cohen stepped outside to confirm that talks were continuing.
“Progress is being made,” Cohen said, adding that trains would run on Wednesday. Both sides say Cohen, who helped solve the NFL and NBA labor disputes, has been an asset in the negotiations.
BART trains will continue to run on Tuesday across the Bay Area, but there’s still no deal in the six-month-long labor contract negotiations. For the third time in less than a week, BART’s unions have put off a strike to stay at the bargaining table.
An hour after the strike deadline passed early Tuesday around 1 AM, federal mediator George Cohen told reporters the two sides were making progress.
BART’s biggest unions called off a strike late Sunday night, but stressed they are ready to strike on Tuesday if no deal is reached. BART management gave what it called its “last and best” offer on Sunday afternoon.
BART’s unions had previously stepped down from a strike that would have started Friday. But this time, BART said they were done negotiating.
Breaking the media gag order, BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican said the final offer gives the unions a 12 percent raise.
The Bay Area could see its second BART strike in three months on Friday if the transit agency doesn’t reach a deal with its unions by midnight tonight. The two sides are closer together than they were back in August, but conflicting statements from the unions and management could be a bad sign.
On Wednesday night SEIU 1021 and ATU Local 1555 said the two sides were close to a deal, but BART pulled the offer. BART spokesman Jim Allison countered by saying "any suggestion that BART offered a proposal and withdrew it is categorically untrue."
If you're still trying to understand what exactly BART and its unions are fighting over, you're not alone. Obviously, the fight is over compensation, but many of us are unclear as to what each party is really asking of the other. Even bargaining representatives on both sides are having a hard time agreeing on the factual differences between their own proposals. Last Wednesday, union and management teams sat down just to clarify some of their financial assumptions — assumptions that have led to multimillion-dollar disagreements over what each side is truly proposing.