Michele Ellson

Photo from the BART blog.

BART management and the rail service's unions will continue to negotiate toward new contracts today, though union leaders could strike Monday if deals aren't reached.

Negotiations are set to resume at 10 a.m. Friday.

"We are grateful the Bay Area will not be impacted by our unions for the next few days and that the trains will be running while we continue to negotiate," BART spokesman Rick Rice said in a statement issued shortly after talks wrapped up Thursday. He said management was prepared to offer a new proposal.

In a statement, union leaders said they, too, would like to avoid a strike.

"Let there be no misunderstanding, that with the Board getting involved, the legislative leaders assisting, and the General Manager willing to sit down at the bargaining table, the Unions are continuing to negotiate and hope to avoid a strike," they wrote in a statement posted to Service Employee International Union's website Thursday.

They said BART board members and state lawmakers seeking to avoid a strike have gotten involved in the negotiations, and that they expect BART General Manager Grace Crunican to come to the bargaining table Friday.

"We believe that these developments can only help bring a resolution to these drawn-out negotiations and for this reason, we will continue bargaining through the weekend," they wrote.

Today marks the end of a 60-day cooling-off period Governor Jerry Brown won from a court in his effort to stall a strike and push the two sides closer to a deal. Union leaders have sought higher wages to reflect the recent rise in BART's fortunes, but management has said they need to conserve cash to invest in the aging BART system.

Meanwhile, other local transit services have been gearing up to transport the system's riders in the event of a strike. We'll have more information on that if a strike occurs; additional information will be available at