As expected, BART workers are walking off the job today, creating commute hell for the more than 400,000 passengers that rely on the transit system every day.
BART management and its unions held tense negotiations through the weekend, however, it was clear from the flurry of press releases sent out over the last 24 hours that the two sides could only agree to disagree.
The main sticking point: wages.
The unions have been trying to get a 4.5 percent annual wage increase over the next three years, claiming they had not gotten a raise for the previous four years.
Rick Rice, spokesman for BART, issued a statement Sunday, claiming that BART staff presented a new proposal over the weekend which doubled the salary offer from 4 percent to 8 percent over four years while reducing the amount of employee contributions for pension and medical benefits.
In addition, BART negotiators say they offered a 2 percent raise for one year, then a series of 1 percent raises for three more years. However, the union said the addition series of 1 percent raises relied on "contingencies so draconian that the so-called "raise" would actually result in a net loss for most frontline workers."
Those contingencies include ridership numbers and sales tax revenues, according to the union.
Then after 8 p.m. on Sunday, BART negotiators told the unions that they had "nothing to offer or propose that would be substantial," according to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
"BART's Board of Directors has never been serious about negotiating this contract," said Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
Rice issued the following statement late Sunday night:
We have a long way to go but we can't get any closer if we aren't at the table. We reached tentative agreements on 11 items today and we should use that momentum to reach a deal. Walking away doesn't do any good.
The public doesn't deserve to be punished. We are sorry they have decided to strike despite the fact we are willing to negotiate. The District is prepared to return to talks and get this finished. We would have worked all night long.
BART has a fair and responsible offer on the table. The proposal provides an 8% wage increase over the 4 years and we lowered our pension and healthcare participation proposal.
We urge riders to go to BART.gov and 511.org to get the latest information on commute alternatives.
Check back for updates.