The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 5, 2013

Strike halted SF commuter trains resuming service

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Commuter rail service is resuming Friday in the San Francisco Bay area after unions called off a strike, agreeing with the transit agency to extend a labor contract for a month while they continue bargaining.

Bay Area Rapid Transit will begin operating trains by 3 p.m. PDT Friday, ending a four-day strike that crippled commutes across the Bay Area, Marty Morgenstern, the state's secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, announced late Thursday.

The current contract between the nation's fifth-largest rail system and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 1555, will be extended for 30 days after expiring earlier this week.

"The contract will be extended until August. 4," Morgenstern said. "The parties will continue to negotiate just as hard as they are now."

Morgenstern said he and two top state mediators urged the bargaining parties to agree to an extension of the current labor deal as both groups have said repeatedly that they were far apart in terms of reaching a new deal.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican agreed there is still a wide gap. Key sticking points in the labor dispute include salaries, pensions, health care and safety.

"Unfortunately, the issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved," Crunican said. "Despite lots of hard work, BART and its unions have failed to come to an agreement on contract issues that matter to all of us today and into the future."

Josie Mooney, a chief negotiator for SEIU, Local 1021, said late Thursday that there's still a lot of work left to do and asked the public to keep the parties on task.

"We stand together tonight and we expect to be standing together with a new contract at the end of August 4 and we hope to goodness that you insist that all the parties do the right thing," Mooney said.

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