Brown on Friday said he would ask a judge on Sunday to order a 60-day "cooling off" period, during which workers for the commuter rail line would not be allowed to walk out.

BART lead negotiator Thomas Hock on Saturday said the governor's move did not change the fact that the two sides were committed to settling the dispute as quickly as possible. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we could make progress," he said. "All of us want to get this done now."

Similarly, Antonette Bryant, president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union, said the unions were committed to a marathon negotiating session this weekend to reach a settlement.

"I have a suitcase packed in my office just in case I need it," she said.

Both sides said progress was being made, though the chief negotiator for the local Service Employees International Union, Josie Mooney, called it "incremental."

Hock put it this way: "Things are moving along."

If no deal is reached by Sunday, it's likely that negotiators, who have been working almost nonstop, will take a couple of weeks off before returning to the table, Hock said.

After the 60-day delay, if a settlement is not reached, no one outside the negotiations would be able to prevent workers from striking on Oct. 11 when the cooling-off period ends.

"The strike option is not off the table," Bryant said. "If there is no deal at the end of the 60 days, there will be a strike."


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Brown announced his decision to request a cooling-off period shortly before the unions were set to issue a 48-hour notice of a Monday strike. BART management had asked the governor for the cooling-off period, which the unions representing 2,300 workers opposed.

BART has calculated that its latest proposal for employee pay and benefits would cost the agency $99.3 million less over four years, compared with the unions' current offer. Union leaders have rejected that figure, but their own calculations put the two sides $56 million apart over three years.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow will hear the request for a cooling-off period at 9 a.m. Sunday and is expected to routinely approve it.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.