BART and two of its major employee unions continued labor negotiations Sunday to try to stave off a strike that could cripple the transit carrier for 335,000 weekday riders.
Four state mediators have joined the talks to try to broker a deal, which hinges on a number of issues including the union's request for a 3 percent wage increase over two years. BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the parties were "pretty far apart" on a wage increase.
The parties agreed Saturday night to a nine-day extension of labor contracts. The contracts originally were scheduled to expire at midnight Tuesday but will now expire at midnight July 9.
BART managers for weeks had said they wanted a new deal reached by June 30 to provide $100 million in savings over four years through union concessions on benefits and work rules. Union leaders have said they need more time to figure out concession details.
The transit agency faces a $250 million, four-year deficit that it proposes to close through union concessions, a 6.1 percent fare increase starting Wednesday and other cost-cutting measures.
BART's 2,800 unionized workers belong to five different groups, but only three of them can strike once their contract has expired. Police and police supervisors, who belong to separate employee associations, are barred from striking.
Members of three BART unions have authorized their leaders to call a strike if they deem it necessary, but union leaders have
Riders will get 72 hours' notice before a strike occurs.
The most recent BART strike was in 1997 and lasted five days, Johnson said.