BART strike continues after night of fruitless negotiations

BART strike
Caution tape and a “closed” sign are displayed in Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Embarcadero station in San Francisco
(David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Negotiations between Bay Area Rapid Transit management and two striking unions lasted through the night failed to produce an agreement, BART officials said Wednesday morning.

The two sides met until 3 a.m. Wednesday and will resume talks at 1 p.m., said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

The announcement that the strike is continuing into its third day comes a day after California’s controller, insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor wrote to the parties involved urging that talks resume because of the effects on the busy region, which, they noted, is “served by the fifth-busiest transit system in America, with nearly 400,000 daily riders.”

The Bay Area Council on Tuesday released an estimate of the environmental cost of the transit strike, calculating that increased traffic congestion is generating almost 16 million pounds of carbon and using up almost 800,000 gallons of gas every day at a cost of almost $3.3 million.


The public policy organization that represents business interests in the nine-county region on Monday had calculated the loss of productivity caused by the strike at $73 million per day from diminished work hours alone, with added effects from reduced spending.

“The BART union strike is not only increasing congestion on our roads, it’s polluting our air,” Jim Wunderman, the council’s president and chief executive, said in a statement Tuesday. “BART plays a valuable role in removing cars from the road and the greenhouse gas emissions they generate. With more cars on the road and idling in traffic, this strike is taking a severe economic toll on the region and it’s harming our environment.”

The group relied on traffic and emissions data from the Texas Transportation Institute and said the 16.2 million pounds of additional carbon being generated as a result of the strike is equal to the weight of 267 BART cars.

“Given the massive dislocation a protracted strike will cause, you owe the people of the Bay Area your time, your concentration and your best good-faith effort at reaching a bargained agreement,” Controller John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote to BART management and unions.  “It is our collective opinion that, so far, you have fallen short.”


In response to the letter, the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 said it would “be willing to consider” a to return to the bargaining table.

SEIU Local 1021 is one of two unions on strike against the 104-mile transit system. The other is the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555. The ATU has not yet responded publicly to the letter.

“Our BART workers are intensely proud of the work they do,” said the SEIU letter, which was signed by three top union officials. “They’ve helped build one of the fastest-growing and highest-rated public transit systems in America.

“They’re committed to the work they do and would love to return to the job,” the letter continued. “We appreciate your recognition of the legitimate safety concerns raised by workers and the weakness of the District’s offer.”


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