No end yet for BART strike in San Francisco

Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - San Francisco facedanother day without its commuter rail system on Sunday with nonew strike talks scheduled to resolve the labor dispute.

Vigils were planned in honor of two workers who were struckand killed by a train as they checked a section of the trackover the weekend.

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

With no negotiating talks scheduled, the walkout is expectedto snarl traffic in the coming week as the city returns to work.

On Sunday, members of one of the unions leading the strikeplanned vigils for the two workers, according to a spokeswomanfor the Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

A second union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555,canceled picket lines for the day because of the deaths. Itsmembers, among the more than 2,000 BART workers on strike, willresume picketing on Monday, it said on its website.

Antonette Bryant, the president of the ATU Local 1555, saidher union would put the latest contract offer to a vote, butpredicted it would be rejected, the San Francisco Chroniclereported.

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

"BART has left us no choice but to reject their finaloffer," Bryant told the Chronicle.

The SEIU Local 1021 declined to say whether its memberswould vote on the offer, the newspaper reported.

The two workers killed on Saturday were a BART employee anda contractor, BART officials said. One of the workers belongedto the American Federation of State, County and MunicipalEmployees, which is not on strike.

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

The train was being taken to a maintenance yard to havegraffiti removed, BART said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigatingthe deaths, BART said.

The BART walkout is the second this year, after unionizedworkers went on strike for 4-1/2 days in July. The unions andBART management were unable to reach a deal in the followingmonths.

Commuters have expressed frustration at the stalemate andexperts say the strike will be an economic drag.

The July work stoppage caused between $73 million and $100million a day in lost productivity for riders, said RufusJeffris, spokesman for the Bay Area Council, which studies thelocal economy.

Unions announced the latest strike on Thursday, and afederal mediator ended efforts at conciliation, saying there wasno more he could do. The two sides have not met since Thursday.

BART commuter rail service helps alleviate vehicle trafficin San Francisco, which ranks as the third most congestedmetropolitan area in the nation after Los Angeles and Honolulu,according to roadway traffic software company INRIX Inc.

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