BART management and representatives from Service Employees International Union 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union 1555 resumed negotiations tonight, but neither side has released any new proposals. Last anyone has heard, BART offered an 8 percent salary increase over four years, and the unions had only reduced their offer of 23.2 percent. BART employees don't currently pay anything toward their pensions, and they pay a $92 flat fee each month for health insurance.
The unions argue that BART’s 8 percent offer is partially dependent on boosted ridership, and demanding more for benefit contributions would turn the pay raise offer into a de facto pay cut. The unions also have repeatedly brought up safety concerns, including what they say is inadequate track lighting and protection for station agents.
So who is bringing the parties together?
The California labor secretary urged both sides to talk, and has sent in two new mediators, Anita I. Martinez, chair of the Public Employment Relations Board, and Loretta van der Pol, chief of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service.
State officials aren't the only ones concerned about ending the strike.
The Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group, said late yesterday the strike could have a lasting impact on the Bay Area’s economy. The council’s economic institute estimates the strike is costing the Bay Area $73 million per day in lost wages.
“It’s a lot of money to be lost from an economy that’s just coming back,” Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said. “This is going to have an impact. It will impact peoples’ wages. It’s going to impact tax revenues. This is serious stuff. This isn’t small.”
“The eye test suggests things are about the same today, with maybe a bit more traffic,” AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said late Tuesday afternoon. “Certainly there’s a feeling that because this is a holiday week, people may have had regularly scheduled vacations they took, so there’s the fear that the number of commuters could grow substantially in the coming days.”
We want you (to tell us about your commute)
If you've been following the BART strike and thinking to yourself that your commute is really newsworthy, now is your chance. KQED wants to hear your stories about a quirky or especially cumbersome commute during the BART strike. Call us at 415-553-8455. We might share your story on the air.
Waiting for the boat
With BART workers on strike, thousands of people in the Bay Area have turned to ferries to cross the bay. This morning it took KQED's reporter Andrew Stelzer more than three minutes to bike from the beginning to the end of the queue at Oakland'd Jack London ferry terminal.
Confusion at SFO
What's worse than jetlag? Flying into a transit strike.
The BART strike is causing some confusion for travelers flying into San Francisco International. The airport is providing free shuttle service to the Millbrae CalTrain station, but finding the shuttle can be challenging.
Joe Quinn from New York says he just arrived to visit friends in San Francisco.
"[I] Kept stopping at information station [after] information station to find out where I had to go," he said. "Probably been walking around for about twenty minutes or so. There's no real signage or anything telling you where to go or where things are located."
Quinn said his friends sent him text messages that BART was down.
However, many other travellers said they didn't know anything about the strike until they reached the BART entrance and found it closed.
Mike and Laura Cartner just arrived from Maryland for the their 20th anniversary: "There was nothing to tell us it was closed before we got here."
To be fair, a recorded voice periodically announces BART is closed and tells passengers to go to an information booth for help. But it's easy to miss in the din of the airport.
KQED's Alex Emslie spoke with a man locally known as having the best commute ever. Stephen Linaweaver often paddles an old whitewater kayak across the Bay from Oakland to San Francisco. He's made the trip about 100 times -- and says it's empowering.
"It makes a big difference, especially at the end of the day when you look up at the bridge or you look at BART, if there's delays or it's not running, and you just get on the water, and you're going to get across probably before most folks who are in cars," Linaweaver said.
"Probably it would not be completely safe because there's not a railing, for example, and they'd also have to turn off the third rail," Chandonia said. "But it would be nice if it were possible today."
So, not very plausible. ... But Linaweaver is looking for paddling companions, and he'll likely be on the water early tomorrow morning, weather permitting.
Car-sharing companies win big
It's becoming clear that some of the big winners of the BART strike are car-sharing companies. Sidecar, Lyft and Avego began promoting their mobile apps and reaching out to drivers in their networks over the weekend.
Nick Allen, co-founder of Sidecar, said he saw a 50 percent increase in ridership on Monday.
"We see rides across the bridge and down in the Peninsula every day, and we’re seeing increased usage of that type because of the BART strike,” Allen told KQED's Peter Jon Shuler.
To get drivers to participate, Sidecar offered extra incentives such as waiving its usual 20 percent of the take and allowing drivers to keep 100 percent. Lyft also waived its surcharge.
Oakland City and East Bay Parks
Meanwhile, Oakland city employees are back at work today after their one-day strike. But union officials say they could walk out again. Negotiations are scheduled to begin on Friday.
One Oakland parking enforcement officer crossed picket lines yesterday, though, according to the Oakland Tribune. The worker, driving a city-issued car, was spotted ticketing cars in the vicinity of Broadway and 40th Street. He refused to give his name to a reporter and said that he got paid well and didn't support the strike. All of the citations will be automatically dismissed, the city announced this afternoon.
East Bay residents will be happy to know that East Bay Regional Parks will be open on the Fourth of July. Cliff Rocha, president of Local 2428 of AFSCME, which represents employees of the parks, said workers and managers have reached an agreement.
Update 11:30 a.m. Not sure this picture needs much explanation, but that's the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza -- in case you couldn't immediately identify which toll plaza that was. The big rig got stuck around 8:45 a.m. and was pulled out by 11:30 a.m. It blocked at least three lanes of traffic at one point.
Update 9:00 a.m. KQED's Matt Williams reports lines at the Jack London Square Ferry Terminal are much longer Tuesday morning than on the first day of the BART strike.
KQED's Andrew Stelzer spoke with ferry commuters Dominic Young and Jessie Groat.
“I live in Jack London Square, so I'm pretty fortunate that I can leave my apartment and still get right to work," Young said. "But I woke up early today thinking I'd catch the 7:30, and I missed the cut by five people, and now I'm probably pushed back about a 45-minute wait. So, I'm a little frustrated, but I'm new to the Bay Area. ... Taken BART every day for a few months. Guess I really take it for granted.”
"Thank God for the ferries," Groat said. "This has at least put a positive thing on a very dismal situation. I think it's unfortunate that the BART workers take it out on the backs of the AC Transit workers, the ferry workers. I know they’re getting their way, and these guys are here doing the job and picking up the pieces. So, unfortunate situation. It's time to come to the table and get it done.”
At BART's Millbrae station, commuter Carey Dare complained it was not quite clear where he was supposed to go to catch a bus to SFO. "My biggest complaint is that SamTrans didn't tell anyone about this stop," Dare said. "I had to find out about it from the SFO stop -- the SFO website."
Original post: Commuters, if you liked the commute mess yesterday, you're going to love the chaos today.
It's not clear how many people are telecommuting, how many people are starting their July Fourth holiday earlier, or how many people may have decided this whole living-in-the-Bay-Area thing isn't for them and have taken to the mountains or retired into Buddhist monasteries.
But we do know there are lots and lots of people out on the roads who wish they had a BART train to ride (or that some of the other people on the road were on BART). Before sunrise this morning, the Bay Bridge metering lights were turned on -- a good 40 minutes earlier than usual -- and early commute traffic immediately backed up on all the approaches.
Our personal view of the experience: One staffer who took the casual carpool from North Berkeley BART was rolling by 6:14 a.m. and exiting on the Fremont Street ramp on the San Francisco side of the bridge by 6:32. That's better than usual. But another staffer drove solo from the Grand Avenue area near downtown Oakland. He left at 5:45 a.m. and, stuck in the backup on the east side of the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza, it took until a little after 7 to get across the bridge.
The really bad news in all this if you're already sick of our BART-less commute purgatory: No one involved in the strike is talking yet. Although a state mediator said yesterday that he and Gov. Jerry Brown "expect" BART management and its two striking unions to resume negotiations, there's no word yet on when that will happen.