A protester is surrounded by signs in front of a bus as striking Oakland city workers and 2,400 employees of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuter rail system go on strike in Oakland, California July 1, 2013. Commuter rail workers went on strike on Monday in the San Francisco area for the first time in more than 15 years, triggering gridlock on highways and headaches for thousands trying to get to work. (Photo : REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains will continue to run throughout the weekend while the transit agency and its two largest unions remain at the bargaining table trying to reach a new contract that would avoid a strike on Monday.
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Unionized workers were just minutes away from walking off the job Thursday night as the deadline for a 60-day cooling-off period approached. However, a union spokesperson announced late Thursday that negotiations with BART management will continue on Friday. But if a deal is not reached by midnight Sunday, union workers will threaten to strike once again.
"Tonight we have had two significant changes at the BART negotiation table," said Roxanne Sanchez, president of SEIU Local 1021, reports SFGate. Once the talks resume Friday, she said, negotiators "will remain there until an agreement has been reached."
If there is a strike next week, 200,000 commuters in San Francisco who normally use BART will be left in the lurch. The transit agency announced that it will run buses from 5-8 a.m. from nine East Bay stations. In addition, travelers can use the San Francisco Bay Ferry. Ridesharing services like Lyft and Sidecar are also expecting to see an increase in riders in the event of a strike.
"We believe we can do that again," spokesperson Ernest Sanchez said, according to ABC News. "We have 12 vessels in service if there is a BART strike, two of them are on loan from Golden Gate Ferry Service, so we think we can serve the same number of people we did last time."
The last strike lasted four and a half days and cost the Bay Area an estimated $73 million in lost productivity, according to the Bay Area Council. It occurred on the July 4 holiday weekend.