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BART Strike Deadline Nears, Union Leader Warns Riders To Prepare

OAKLAND (KCBS) — Tensions escalated at the BART bargaining table Monday with the possibility of a strike on Tuesday appearing to grow stronger.

On Monday afternoon, both the union and BART management had dueling news conferences where they traded barbs several hours before the deadline late Monday night.

Dinner was brought in for negotiators inside the Caltrans Building on West Grand Avenue. BART Board Director President Tom Radulovich spoke first and said unions should take their last and final offer and take it to their membership for a vote.

"We understand the anxiety everyone's feeling right now. The last thing anyone wants is a BART strike. We don't feel that's necessary. We're going to keep talking about this. We'd like our unions to do as other unions have done. Take an offer to their workers without going on strike," said Radulovich.

He said the dollar amount in the contract would not change, but that they are open to changing some of the language in their proposal.

Meanwhile, unions representing BART workers are blasting the transit system's board, including Radulovich.

SEIU Local 1021 executive director Pete Castelli said the BART board has been absent at the negotiations and that they are trying to force a contract on the unions.

"We apologize to the riders, but we put it squarely at the BART district's feet. We feel we have to give them notice tonight that unless something breaks and there's a Hail Mary, there will be a strike," he said.

Castelli told commuters they should be prepared for a Tuesday morning strike should no contract agreement be reached. He said the difference in between the two sides is around $6 to $10 million, but despite what is a relatively small difference, it still feels like they are far apart.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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