OAKLAND -- BART workers went on strike early Friday after a week of marathon negotiations failed to produce a settlement, causing difficulties for hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters.

There are plans for enhanced bus and ferry service as well as expanded carpool hours, and BART will run some free round-trip buses to San Francisco, but those measures are not expected to come close to satisfying demand.

"It’s going to be catastrophic,” said Rufus Jeffris, spokesman for the Bay Area Council, a regional business organization.

“Regrettably, we were not able to bring home the result we all wanted to achieve: a voluntary collective bargaining agreement,” said Cohen, who by all accounts helped bridge many gaps between the parties.

Leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 expressed deep disappointment -- and pointed a finger squarely at management.

They had made concessions and come to agreement on numerous issues -- including health benefit and pension contributions -- since talks resumed in earnest last Friday, they said. And on Thursday afternoon, they had unsuccessfully sought to have the unresolved matters brought before an arbitrator.

“We could lose … but we’d rather take the risk than shut down the Bay Area,” said SEIU Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez. “The employer said, ‘No.’”

In her own news conference, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said management had offered a good deal to workers, and she urged unions to take it to a vote.

“It’s not management that called for a strike, it’s the unions,” she said.

With that, the Bay Area appeared headed for commuter meltdown.

“It’s very frustrating, it’s very dismaying,” said Jeffris, whose organization calculated the costs of BART’s 4 1/2-day strike in July at $73 million a day. Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in later to seek a 60-day cooling off period.


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