Though the unions declined to issue a 72-hour strike warning earlier this week in what we thought was a positive sign, tensions have mounted and things don't look great as tonight's midnight deadline approaches.
The issues remain since back in June: The unions want bigger wage increases, claiming that since they haven't gotten one in eight years they deserve more than 2% a year, and they don't want to have to pay higher amounts into their health insurance premiums because of how this will adversely affect lower-wage workers. BART management, meanwhile, says they can not afford to be locked into a contract with such high wage increases, and they want more compromise on health care.
Last night the unions issued a statement, refuted by management, alleging that they were close to an agreement but then negotiators “pulled the rug from underneath the unions as well as the entire Bay Area" by withdrawing an undisclosed offer. But c'mon, after all this time, can they really be that far apart and unable to compromise?
Tonight's deadline comes at the close of the 60-day cooling-off period mandated by Governor Brown in August, and it could present commuters with an enormous nightmare starting on Friday, bigger than the one they faced in early July during what was essentially a holiday week. Brace yourselves.
As we reported earlier, the contingency plans in place are more robust than before, and will include limited train operation (driven by former operators who are now in management) through the Transbay tube during rush hours.