San Francisco-area transit strike postponed, more contract talks set
SAN FRANCISCO Oct 11 (Reuters) - Union leaders for San Francisco transit workers said they would continue negotiating with management through the weekend, but will strike on Monday if no deal is reached.
The union announcement came minutes before a 60-day cooling- off period was set to expire at midnight local time Thursday that had legally blocked a potential strike.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit District serves some 400,000 daily riders, and a strike would cripple the commuter rail system.
Leaders of the two biggest unions, representing more than 2,000 BART workers, said they hoped to avoid walking off the job.
"We remain hopeful that our good faith effort will be met by their good faith effort," said Roxanne Sanchez, president of the Service Employees International Union 1021.
"If there is no agreement by Sunday (midnight), there would be a strike," she added
A BART spokesman said negotiations were set to continue at 10 a.m. PDT (1700 GMT) on Friday as part of an extension of talks through Sunday night.
"We are grateful the Bay Area will not be impacted by our unions for the next few days and that the trains will be running while we continue to negotiate," BART spokesman Rick Rice said.
Officials for the district and unions have said that they were millions of dollars apart on a deal. A federal mediator assigned to the BART negotiations on Monday barred the two sides from releasing additional contract details, union spokeswoman Cecille Isidro said.
For its last known proposal, BART offered employees a 10 percent raise over four years. The unions asked for a three-year contract, with a 3.75 percent raise for each of the first two years and a 4 percent raise in the last year.
If workers walk off the job, the rail system would shut down for the second time this year. A strike in July lasted for 4-1/2 days, creating severe roadway traffic and forcing commuters to miss work or crowd onto a limited number of other public transportation options. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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