Brace yourselves, Bay Area. Union negotiators left the bargaining table tonight at around 8:30 p.m. What does this mean? It means that, unless an agreement is met within the next couple of hours, tomorrow BART will strike at midnight.
Statement from SEIU Local 1021 is as follows:
“BART management threw in the towel tonight and pushed away from the bargaining table hours before the expiration of union contracts.
SEIU members are still here and available to meet with BART management until contracts expire at midnight. Our workers do not want a strike, but they cannot continue to work in conditions that are unsafe for workers and riders. We continue to hope that BART will negotiate in good faith and adequately address critical safety, staffing, and pay issues before midnight. Management pushed away from the table tonight.
We sat at the table for 10 hours on Saturday without any new proposals from BART management. We offered a cost-saving plan that would have cut the District's retiree medical costs by $30 million that produced no response. We declined a proposal that attempted to divide the two largest BART unions on economic issues.
Throughout, we were frustrated that we couldn't get answers to questions and costing for proposals because key BART managers weren't at work over the weekend.
Unfortunately, BART management seems intent on forcing a strike that will impact hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents."
Among other issues, the unions are upset at BART's plan to make workers contribute to their pensions and pay even more for their monthly health insurance (now at $92/month). The last time BART shutdown due to a strike was in 1997. It lasted for six days.
"A high stakes game of chicken," notes KTVU. Indeed. We'll continue to update as the night trudges on. Until then, plan on finding an alternate route tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: BART workers officially on strike after talks end and contracts expired. Josie Mooney, a negotiator for SEIU, Local 1021, made it official at midnight during a press conference. You can find an alternate route tomorrow here.
"We regret to say that after waiting for hours, we've received no new proposals from BART. They've not responded to our safety concerns and continued to stall on negotiations. BART workers have had one goal in these negotiations - to make sure we can improve safety for both workers and riders. Tonight, the leadership of BART showed that they don’t share this goal,” said Mooney. “A strike is always the last resort and we have done everything in our power to avoid it. Unfortunately, BART seems intent on forcing a strike. We are disappointed that BART’s failure to bargain honestly and fairly means that hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters have to suffer."
BART trains will continue to run until 2am before shutting down. Below, the workers on strike immediately after midnight: