BART union leaders said late Thursday night that talks will continue with BART Board members through the weekend.
Negotiations will continue at least through Sunday night before a strike decision is made.
Updated 4 p.m.
By Alex Gronke and Bay City News — BART managers are bringing a new proposal to the table when they meet with union negotiators on Thursday afternoon in an effort to avoid a possible strike that could begin as soon as midnight.
BART spokesman Rick Rice told Patch the proposal would be different than what was being offered on Wednesday, but he would not provide any details.
He said the transit agency is still guardedly optimistic a settlement would be reached this evening.
"We're still hopeful, and we're still working hard at it," he said.
Leah Berlanga, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, told Patch at 3 p.m. they were waiting for the talks to resume, but she expected them to start soon.
Berlanga did not want to comment on the possibility of a settlement tonight.
This morning, BART management negotiators briefed the transit agency's board of directors on the contract talks.
Earlier today, Cecille Isidro, another SEIU spokeswoman, said union leaders hope that BART General Manager Grace Crunican will participate in the contract talks.
"We need to reach an agreement as soon as possible and she needs to be at the table," Isidro said.
Crunican previously has said she doesn't need to be at the bargaining table because BART's negotiators know what management's position is.
BART management began negotiating with SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, on April 1.
The workers previously went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July but finally agreed to Gov. Jerry Brown's request that they return to the bargaining table for another 30 days.
When the second round of talks failed, Brown asked for a 60-day cooling-off period, and that period ends at midnight Thursday.
Union leaders said Monday evening that they weren't ready to give their customary 72-hour strike notice but also said they were keeping all of their options on the table, including going on strike. The notice is a courtesy but is not mandatory.
According to BART spokesman Jim Allison, the transit agency and the unions remain split on issues such as wages and employees' contributions to health care and pension costs.
SEIU Local 1021 and ATU Local 1555 said in a joint statement Wednesday night that BART negotiators "pulled the rug from underneath the unions as well as the entire Bay Area" by withdrawing an offer that had brought the parties close to an agreement.
But Allison said "any suggestion that BART offered a proposal and withdrew it is categorically untrue" and blamed the confusion on "a miscommunication that wasn't on BART's part."
If BART does strike, visit 511.org's strike page for other commute options, including SamTrans.
Business leaders concerned
Meanwhile, Bay Area business leaders earlier this week expressed serious concerns about the possibility of another strike.
Bay Area business leaders today called on the region's employers to come up with contingency plans for a possible BART strike starting Friday that they said could greatly harm the local economy.
"This really is an emergency situation," said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, a regional business-sponsored advocacy group that held a news conference Tuesday at its headquarters in San Francisco.
The council estimates that the July strike cost the Bay Area $73 million per day in lost productivity, and Wunderman said, "I think it could be much worse this time."
Metropolitan Transportation Commission chair Amy Rein Worth said a strike this time around would have a greater impact because students were out of school and many workers were on vacation during the previous stoppage.
"We really have to be mindful of the impact that this strike potentially could have on that population that relies solely on public transit to either get from home to school or to work," Worth said.