If there's one thing we've learned from months of failed BART negotiations and aimless brinksmanship, it's this: Hell hath no fury like a bargaining team scorned.
With the deadline for a 60-day cooling-off period closing in at 11:59 p.m. tonight, BART workers and their union advocates are ready to shut down Bay Area transit for the second time this year. Worse yet, representatives from BART's two largest unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, say they'd nearly come to an agreement yesterday, after back-to-back 12 hour sessions. But then it fell apart this morning, and we're back at square one.
"We were completely taken aback when BART management backed up and withdrew their offer," union spokesmen say in a press release issued this morning, claiming that BART's hired negotiator, Thomas Hock, lied to the unions at the behest of Manager Grace Crunican.
BART communications officer Jim Allison demurred, insisting that BART is committed to reaching a settlement. "Any suggestion that BART offered a proposal and withdrew it is categorically untrue," Allison said in a press statement yesterday.
Both parties will return to the table today in hope of bridging the $89 million wage and benefits gap that sets their proposals apart. Consumers might find comfort knowing that BART's unions declined to issue a 72-hour strike notice on Tuesday, saying they want to exhaust all possible resolutions.
But for any business that suffered during the July BART strike, or any harried commuter who had to queue up for a four-hour ferry ride, that might be a dubious silver lining.