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BART, unions present their sides to panel investigating labor negotiations

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officials and representatives of its two largest unions yesterday presented their contract negotiation positions to an investigative board that California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed earlier this week to avert a strike.

BART officials said the unions and the agency are currently $100 million apart in their proposals, but an attorney representing one of the unions argued the two sides are $56 million apart.

Brown appointed the panel, which is scheduled to make its recommendations to him by Sunday, after BART asked the governor to consider seeking a "cooling off" period to avoid what would have been the second strike launched by about 2,300 BART workers who are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021.

The workers went on strike for five days in the first week of July until the unions and BART agreed to a 30-day extension of the previous contract, which expired June 30. Last week the unions issued a 72-hour strike notice, which meant the workers were scheduled to walk off the job on Monday.

The unions and BART remain far apart primarily over wage increases and employee contributions to health insurance premiums and pension funds, according to a press release.

Brown will consider the panel's report and then determine whether he will issue a 60-day cooling off period, which would maintain train service while negotiations continue, BART officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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