BART insists last offer is best; union still threatens strike

By Colleen Valles The Associated Press
Tuesday October 23, 2001

OAKLAND — With a strike deadline looming Monday at midnight, Bay Area Rapid Transit officials and members of the transit system’s smallest union remained at odds over job security. 

Management at the commuter train network says its offer of a 22 percent pay raise and benefits package is the best it can do. The union, which represents 238 train controllers and supervisors, says it’s satisfied with the compensation but worries jobs will be outsourced. 

The offer is reportedly similar to the contract that BART unions representing maintenance and train operators accepted September 4.  

Those contracts called for a 22 percent wage increase over the next four years, increased pension plan contributions and continued health care coverage at no added cost to employees. 

If the two sides don’t agree by midnight Monday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993 could strike. Leaders of the largest two unions have said they will honor AFSCME’s picket line, but BART officials insist they will find a way to keep trains running for 300,000 commuters. 

The supervisors’ union rejected BART’s “best and final” offer Oct. 15. BART officials asked the union to return to the bargaining table and local elected leaders have been trying to get both sides to settle. 

In a written statement, Willie Kennedy, president of BART’s board of directors, said local elected leaders would do best to encourage both sides to stay at the table and finish negotiations, rather than rush a settlement. AFSCME representatives could not be immediately reached Monday.