BART Strike Watch: With 36 Hours Until Deadline, Talks Continue
Update: Noon Saturday: Negotiators for BART and its two biggest unions resumed talks this morning amid mixed signs about whether an agreement to avert a second transit strike is within reach.
On one hand, union negotiators are trying to focus attention on BART’s lowest-paid employees, workers who clean BART stations and trains. Saturday morning, SEIU Local 1021 negotiator Josie Mooney appeared at BART’s 16th Street/Mission station in San Francisco along with workers and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. The purpose: to showcase what maintenance crews face at what they call one of BART’s “most challenging” stations.
Mooney said Friday that BART’s past economic proposals for station workers would cut their pay substantially.
“They start out making $42,000 a year,” Mooney said. The BART offer “puts them $1,950 behind where they are today in four years from now. So that’s a problem.” But she added that the union was evaluating a new BART offer that may represent a step forward in the talks.
Also Friday, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said during a press conference at agency headquarters in Oakland that getting an agreement before Sunday night’s strike deadline was “Plan A and Plan B” for the agency—and that Plan C is to keep talks going until a deal is reached.
Crunican stood by BART’s hired chief negotiator, Thomas Hock, despite a formal union complaint that he has a conflict of interest because his company, Veolia Transportation, earned $500 in fees for helping provide bus service during last month’s four-day BART strike. Union negotiators have faulted Hock for his 10-day absence during the talks and have also accused him of being intransigent in talks and blocking BART officials from making progress toward a contract.
“They get to pick who they have [at the table], and I get to pick who I have. He’s a tough negotiator, but he’s a fair negotiator, and we’re looking for a fair deal,” Crunican said. She said several times that she respects BART’s union negotiators and unions. “They’re really great people,” she said. “I love ‘em.”
Here’s video from Crunican’s Friday afternoon presser: