BART unions are continuing their strike today with no bargaining meetings scheduled between union leaders and BART management.
"A strike is a serious and regrettable action that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," Lee said. "BART wants to negotiate an end to this strike in a fair and financially responsible way."
There were no statements issued by any of the BART unions today.
BART workers walked off their jobs shortly after midnight Friday, halting train service throughout the system.
Later, buses moved onto streets around the East Dublin/Pleasanton station, offering free rides to Oakland and San Francisco.
A team of federal mediators bowed out of the BART contract negotiations Thursday after union representatives announced that the talks had
failed and that workers would strike.
A former BART director who's been involved in labor issues for many years said he was "very surprised" that the transit agency's workers ended up calling a strike.
Michael Bernick, who served on BART's board from 1988 to 1996, said BART management, the unions and "a variety of political figures from the state level on down" met repeatedly to avert a strike.
Bernick, who now works for a law firm in San Francisco and is a fellow in employment policy at the Milken Institute, said he thought a strike
was "in the rearview mirror" when union leaders said on Sunday night that they wouldn't go on strike on Monday and would continue to bargain with management.
The current process in which BART management engages in collective bargaining with its unions "needs to be changed" because it is "highly
contentious and highly dysfunctional" and results in lengthy negotiations, Bernick said.
He said he thinks it should be changed to some form of arbitration instead.
But Service Employees International Union Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez said, "I'm sorry, I'm regretful."
"The employer has been unwilling to reach an agreement or to settle these disputes without a strike," Sanchez said at a news conference outside Caltrans offices on Grand Avenue in Oakland where negotiations had been taking place.
Federal mediator George Cohen said the two sides had reached agreements on "a number of very significant items that have previously separated them" but that sticking points remain and no one budged.
"The parties were unable to bridge the gap," Cohen said. "Our efforts to do that at this point in time were not successful."
The three-person federal mediation team decided there was "nothing further we were able to do," he said.
The news conference came after a marathon 30-hour negotiating session.
"We came here at 10 o'clock (Thursday) morning. We have not left," Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 president Antonette Bryant said.
Bryant said she was "deeply disappointed" at the outcome of the marathon session but blamed management.
"We were this close and yet at the last minute they threw in a management rights clause to take away our rights as workers," she said. "Everything else was done. It should have been done.
"This is not an economic strike," Bryant said. "It is an unfair labor practices strike."
BART General Manager Grace Crunican said management has offered a 12% raise over four years, with workers paying a 4% pension contribution and a 9.5% increase in their health care contributions.
Crunican said the sticking points are related to management's proposed work rules, which she said are essential to maintaining BART's effectiveness.
"As we've gone back and forth, the district made it clear that we had certain rights that we had to maintain in this package," she said.
Crunican said the rights laid out in the proposal give management the flexibility it needs to maintain an efficient system and cut out wasteful
She gave an example of pay stubs, saying management needs the ability to have pay stubs delivered electronically rather than be required to have a worker deliver paper stubs to employees.
Crunican said BART management's offer will expire on Oct. 27 if the unions don't accept it.
BART workers previously went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July after their previous contract expired.
A group of Bay Area business leaders is casting blame on union leaders for not accepting a deal put forth by BART management to avert a strike.
"This will be a catastrophe for the Bay Area that is completely unnecessary, unjustified and will cause untold hardship for the hundreds of
thousands of working people who rely on BART every day," said John Grubb, chief of staff of the Bay Area Council, a local business-sponsored advocacy
The council released its statement condemning the strike after union leaders announced they were walking off the job.
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates that the strike is costing the Bay Area upwards of $73 million per day in lost worker productivity.
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