OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area transit agency and two unions spent the day bargaining Friday, a day after dodging one deadline for a crippling strike as another one looms Monday.
With state legislators acting as facilitators and BART's general manager listening to proposals much of the day, the two sides did not discuss specific developments but said Friday saw a shift that could lead to a weekend agreement.
"The elements are here that are needed for the two sides to come together," said Pete Castelli, executive director for the Service Employees International Union local 1021.
The SEIU and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 agreed to keep negotiating after a 60-day, state-mandated cooling-off period that prohibited a strike expired Thursday night, saying their 2,300 members would stay on the job at least through the weekend. Talks continued into the night Friday and were expected to last well into the weekend.
If no deal is reached by midnight Sunday, the unions have promised to strike on Monday for the second time in three months, leaving 400,000 riders on the nation's fifth-largest rail system stranded.
"I would say it's a very good possibility. Again, we don't know what's going to happen," ATU president Antonette Bryant said Friday. "None of us want to strike. The bigger deal is that we want a deal and we think there's a deal to be made."
The unions said BART General Manager Grace Crunican's presence in talks late Thursday and much of Friday made a difference — they had repeatedly criticized her for not being more involved.
"The unions have been clear that they feel that Grace would be helpful in the process," BART spokesman Jim Allison said. "She's been abreast of all of the developments on a daily basis, hourly basis, sometimes."
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