Bay Area Transit Workers Strike for Second Time This Year

October 18, 2013

BART workers went on strike Friday and trains are shut down, setting the stage for the second Bay Area commute nightmare in three months.

Just after midnight, union leaders picked up picket signs and said they would not go back to work until they reach a contract agreement with management, stranding 200,000 people who ride BART roundtrip each day. Although workers had threatened strikes five times in the past week, this time they had finally reached their breaking point.

By late Thursday afternoon, talks had ended altogether and it was not clear when they would resume. A wild round of back-and-forth afternoon news conferences brought to a live TV audience an outpouring of emotion from sleep-deprived negotiators, and even the nation's top mediator had given up.

"Unfortunately, yes -- we are on strike as of midnight," Antonette Bryant, president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union, said after the end of an epic bargaining session that began about 30 hours before and left negotiators wearing day-old clothes.

Both sides were inching closer on the main economic issues that had separated them for more than six months but were still about 4 percent apart on total wage increases. And unions said they were fed up after management tried to impose new work rules to limit overtime and other costs.

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