A union representative said late Monday during a break from negotiations to avert a Bay Area Rapid Transit strike that a counter-offer is in the hands of BART management.

Pete Castelli, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, exited the California Department of Transportation's Oakland headquarters about 10:30 p.m. to say that labor has crafted a counter-offer to management's "last, best and final" offer presented Sunday.

"It rests in the district’s hands at this point," he said. "It’s comprehensive, it’s movement.... They’re considering it. They’re meeting."

Castelli said George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, is present in the negotiation room, adding that "we think it shows the importance of the bargaining, for an appointee to be at the table."

Still, Castelli said, an 11:59 p.m. strike deadline given by the union "still stands."

Castelli was then whisked away from a bank of media cameras to get back to work.

If a strike hits the Bay Area Rapid Transit regional commuter system Tuesday, it will be the second since July. A work stoppage would affect an estimated 200,000 round-trip weekday commuters.

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