UPDATE 2-No end in sight to San Francisco commuter rail strike

Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:24am EDT

By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO Oct 20 (Reuters) - San Francisco faced another day without its commuter rail system on Sunday with no talks scheduled to resolve the strike, and vigils were held for two workers killed in a track accident.

The strike against the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency, which carries about 400,000 riders a day, began on Friday after contract talks broke down over pay and workplace rules.

With no talks scheduled, the walkout by more than 2,000 workers is expected to snarl traffic as the city returns to work this week.

Antonette Bryant, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said her union would put the latest contract offer to a vote, but predicted it would be rejected, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The vote would not be scheduled until later in the week, the newspaper said.

The Service Employees International Union Local 1021 declined to say whether its members would vote on the offer, the newspaper reported.

SEIU late on Sunday said it delivered to management a "new counterproposal" that offered flexibility on rules governing workplace technology, but declined to offer details. Neither of the major unions nor management could be reached for comment.

The BART Board of Directors is set to meet in Oakland on Monday afternoon to discuss the labor talks with the transit system's general manager and its labor negotiations team.

The two workers killed on Saturday were a BART employee and a contractor, BART officials said. One of the workers belonged to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is not on strike.

They were checking a possible dip in the track just north of the station in suburban Walnut Creek when a BART train functioning on automatic control, with an operator inside, struck and killed them, the agency said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board began an investigation of the incident on Sunday, NTSB chief investigator Jim Southworth told a news conference. He said it would take four to 10 days to complete the investigation.

Southworth did not release the identities of those involved in the accident. He would not confirm whether a BART manager was operating the train or if the NTSB would investigate the accident in connection with the strike.

Roughly 60 people in dark clothing, some wearing work uniforms, gathered at the Lake Merritt BART station in downtown Oakland for a candlelight vigil honoring the dead workers.

"It's a huge loss for the BART family," said Patricia Schuchardt, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993 (AFSCME), representing one of the dead workers.

AFSCME, with 220 middle-management BART employees, has not called a strike, but most of its members have walked off the job in support of SEIU and ATU strikers, Schuchardt said.

The BART walkout is the second this year, after unionized workers went on strike for 4-1/2 days in July. The unions and BART management were unable to reach a deal in the following months.

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