BART and its unions resumed negotiations Wednesday as management revealed it had not budged from its latest economic offer for the past month, another sign of how far apart both sides appear to remain ahead of the deadline to avert a Monday shutdown.
Meanwhile, Josie Mooney, chief negotiator for the local Service Employees International Union, said unions submitted their last financial proposal on July 17 and are awaiting a counter-offer from BART.
Mooney said if BART does not budge by Friday morning, unions will likely issue a 72-hour notice of an impending strike, and that without a new proposal from BART by Monday morning, they will go on strike, "I think." But she emphasized that workers' strong priority is still to reach a deal to avert a strike.
Unions meanwhile, released a flyer for a Thursday rally that declared "NO MORE CONCESSIONS!" But unlike BART, they declined to divulge details of their latest proposal, citing a gag order from state mediators.
"Frankly, (BART is) bargaining in the press at the same time that they had not bargained with us in the last 29 days," Mooney said. "That's not how we're going to achieve an agreement -- by arguing in the press."
On July 4, state mediators appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown told unions to go back to work while negotiators spend the next 30 days at the bargaining table after declaring that both sides had such differing views that a deal did would not be possible in the short term. That ended a 4½-day strike and set up a new deadline -- which now looms Sunday night -- to avert a second strike that would begin Monday morning.
The latest proposals revealed by either side show unions and management several percentage points apart on the three significant issues that have remained since negotiations began in April: pay, contributions to health care and pensions.
BART held a news conference Tuesday to reiterate its economic proposal from July 2, which remains management's current offer, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Wednesday. In the last few weeks, BART has worked on smaller, noneconomic parts of the agreement, and mediators had scheduled this week to work on the financial aspects of the deal, she said.
In late June and the first two days in July, BART doubled its pay increase offer and reduced its proposal for workers to contribute more toward health care.
During the same time a month ago, unions slightly increased their pension offer and reduced their proposal for pay increases by a couple percentage points.
BART's current four-year offer includes: 8 percent pay raises, a rise in employee health care contributions from 5 percent to 10 percent and an increase in employee pension contributions from nothing to 5 percent.
The latest available union offer covers three years and includes: More than 20 percent pay increases, willingness to pay slightly more for health care benefits and a pension contribution of 3 percent.
BART says the net impact of its offer is slightly more money for workers while unions say some low-paid workers and those with many dependents will see a net decrease in pay after seeing a pay freeze since 2009.
"That isn't fair -- that isn't how people can sustain their families," Mooney said.
BART's 2,300 blue-collar workers make an average of $76,551 in gross pay, easily the highest among California transit agencies, and their benefits -- $92 a month toward health care and nothing toward pensions -- are also among the best for Bay Area government agencies.
Negotiations continued Wednesday morning at a neutral office in Oakland. Talks were expected to take place daily, if needed, through the Sunday night deadline.
Unions say they had planned a march to BART headquarters from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Workers say they also bought space on a Bay Bridge billboard to advocate for their cause.
The San Francisco Bay Ferry is preparing its staff and crew for a potential BART strike Monday. If a strike happens, the agency will add an additional landing, increase runs and add earlier and later departure times to the previous BART strike schedule.
During the first BART strike, SF Bay Ferry ferries carried 18,000 one-way riders per day, triple their normal average. As a result, they will have 13 boats in place -- up from 12 in the last strike and eight normally.
The additional landing at Golden Gate Ferry's San Francisco Ferry Building facility will be in place to help reduce dock congestion and carry more passengers, and there will be increased runs between Oakland Jack London Square, Alameda Main Street and Harbor Bay, Vallejo and the Ferry Building.
The earlier and later departure times include a 5 a.m. departure from Vallejo and a 5:30 a.m. Oakland departure to the Ferry Building; and 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. departures from the Ferry Building to Oakland.
If a strike takes place and carries on through the weekend, SF Bay Ferry will stick to the regular weekend schedule. Also available for the public during the strike will be additional customer service representatives at terminals and enhanced directional signage.
"We think they'll be more demand than last time," said Ernest Sanchez, spokesman for the SF Bay Ferry. "Let's just hope it doesn't happen."
Staff writer Brittny Mejia contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.