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No deal reached yet in SF Bay Area transit talks

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm •  Published: July 3, 2013
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco Bay area transit officials are warning commuters to make alternate transit plans on the July Fourth holiday as rail workers are expected to continue their strike.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency on Wednesday said there was no indication that its two largest labor unions would return to work Thursday.

Negotiators and both sides were still working late into the evening Wednesday, but no deal has been announced.

Key issues involve salaries, pensions, health care and safety.

The strike is in its third day. Heavy morning rush-hour traffic lightened considerably by midday as the holiday approached.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Negotiations resumed Wednesday between Bay Area Rapid Transit and its striking rail workers after both sides indicated progress had been made during a lengthy overnight session that ended just hours earlier.

Josie Mooney, a chief negotiator with Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said she was hopeful the latest round of talks could end the three-day strike that has slowed commutes across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mooney appeared optimistic after an overnight bargaining session that lasted nearly nine hours.

"We made some progress. We've worked very hard," Mooney said. She declined further comment, saying a mediator had asked the parties not to speak to the media.

Key issues in the labor dispute involving the nation's fifth-largest rail system include salaries, pensions, health care and safety.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said the long meeting was a good sign.

"It's a lot better than not talking," he said.

The strike, however, continues to cause stress and frustration in the region. Commuters lined up early Wednesday for the transit agency's charter buses at five locations, waited patiently for ferries heading to San Francisco, and endured heavy rush-hour traffic on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that lightened considerably by midmorning.

"I hope this is the last day," Teresa Hardin, 52, of Oakland, a benefits consultant, said before she boarded a San Francisco-bound ferry. "It's becoming harder to be sympathetic to either of the parties right now."

BART serves more than 400,000 commuters each weekday. The strike began early Monday after talks broke off. Negotiations resumed Tuesday as political pressure and public pleas mounted.

The governor's office sent two of the state's top mediators — the chair of the Public Employment Relations Board and the chief of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service — to facilitate further talks.

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