By Isabel Angell
The second deadline for a contract between BART and its unions is quickly approaching, but the two sides still have a long way to go if they want to prevent a second strike.
BART issued a statement today saying the unions' request for a wage increase would mean an 18 percent fare hike for riders. That means the unions have stuck with their offer before the strike-- a 20.1 percent raise over three years. BART spokesman Rick Rice confirmed the two sides haven’t moved on the salary issue.
“That's a current estimate. And our current proposal is still at 8 percent over four years.”
This is the first mention of the state of negotiations since the 4½-day strike in early July, when the state mediator handling the talks asked both sides to keep details out of the press. But Rice said this statement doesn't break the state mediator's request.
“We’re talking about where we were before the current agreement,” he said, even though those positions are current as of today.
But SEIU 1021 Executive Director Peter Castelli says BART violated the gag order with this statement, and accused them of bargaining in bad faith.
“One, to characterize it like this, it's false. Two, it's propaganda. Three, it's designed to turn people against the workers, and it's totally inappropriate and inaccurate,” he said.
The bad blood between BART and unions continued today, as protesters interrupted BART General Manager Grace Crunican's speech to a public transit group in San Francisco. They demanded she dismiss BART's outside negotiator, Thomas Hock, calling him a union-buster.
Castelli said Hock has been absent for the last 10 days of negotiations and the two sides haven’t been able to discuss the big issues. They will be back at the table -- with Hock -- on Tuesday. BART and the unions have six days before the extended contract expires.