OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit warned that passenger trains may not run Monday after contract talks with its two biggest unions apparently stalled as a midnight deadline approached.
BART has not received official word from the unions about a strike, but it began posting electronic signs at stations and on its social media sites that a strike may begin after the end of Sunday's regularly scheduled service. The move came as BART accused union negotiators of walking away from bargaining table while union negotiators countered that were taking a break.
Representatives for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 said the unions told management they had until midnight, when the unions' contracts are set to expire, to offer a new proposal for them to consider.
"If there are no new proposals by midnight, then workers will walk off the job as soon as the trains are safely put to bed," Josie Mooney, a negotiator for the SEIU, told the Associated Press.
BART spokesman Rick Rice declined to comment further.
A strike would cripple the region's Monday morning commute. Transportation officials say another 60,000 vehicles could be on the road, clogging highways and bridges throughout the Bay Area.
As the deadline neared, both sides made an 11th-hour attempt to resume talks Sunday afternoon though they said they were far apart on key sticking points including salary, pensions, health care and safety. Anticipated around-the-clock negotiations had fallen apart Saturday as the unions packed up and left after talks stalled amid claims that the parties met face-to-face once in 36 hours.
Sunday's last-ditch talks also came after Gov. Jerry Brown's secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Marty Morgenstern, requested the parties continue negotiating to prevent a work stoppage of the nation's fifth-largest rail system.
"Our team is not encouraged by BART's proposal, but we are going to bargain at the request of the labor secretary in good faith as we have all along," said Josie Mooney, an SEIU chief negotiator. "But if BART continues to do 'surface bargaining,' then we will not come to an agreement."
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said Sunday that the governor will not call for a "cooling off period at this time" as state mediators will continue assisting the negotiating parties.
"BART and its labor unions owe the public a swift resolution of their differences," Westrup said. "All parties should be at the table doing their best to find common ground."