There will not be a BART strike today and negotiators will remain engaged in talks this morning, according to a federal mediator.
Shortly after 1 a.m. federal mediator George Cohen announced that Bart and union representatives will continue contract negotiation talks through the morning and that BART train service will not be interrupted.
The announcement followed a hectic night of negotiations that at one point led a union executive to waive his hands and say there would be a strike at midnight.
Pete Castelli, the exeutive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said "We're heading for a strike at midnight unless something breaks and there's a Hail Mary."
Speaking to reporters outside the Caltrans building in Oakland, where BART management is meeting with union negotiators, Castelli advised
commuters to "prepare for alternative transportation" to get to work on Tuesday in case an agreement isn't reached tonight.
But apparently Cohen calmed Castelli and others down long enough to reach an agreement to run the trains one more day.
BART board president Tom Radulovich said a last, best and final offer presented by management on Sunday represents the "outer limit" of what
the transit agency can offer its workers.
The offer includes a 3% raise for each of the contract's four years, retroactive to July 5, but also requires employees to make a 4% pension contribution and a 9.5% contribution to their health benefits, according to BART officials.
All day Monday, negotiators for BART and its labor unions were at the bargaining able to try once again to agree on a new contract and avert a strike, but the unions vowed to go on strike tonight if an agreement can't be reached.
Cecille Isidro, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, said the two sides are meeting face to face but said she couldn't discuss the details of the talks because a federal mediator has asked the parties not to.
BART representatives weren't immediately available for comment this morning.
Members of SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, had threatened to go on strike today if an agreement wasn't reached by midnight on Sunday.
But late Sunday, union leaders extended their strike deadline by 24 hours, to midnight tonight.
BART officials said an offer they presented to the unions on Sunday is worth $7 million more than the one they made Friday, and represents the transit agency's last, best and final offer in the contract talks, which began April 1.
However, union leaders maintain that BART's latest contract proposal is worth less than previous offers, calling it "regressive."
BART workers went on strike for several days at the beginning of July but returned to the bargaining table at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Brown eventually sought a 60-day cooling-off period, which was granted by a judge but expired at midnight last Thursday.
Talks have continued past that deadline, however, and Bay Area residents are continuing to head to bed each work night not knowing whether BART will be running for their morning commutes.
That uncertainty may change tonight if the unions follow through on their promise to go on strike.