Gov. Brown’s three-member board puts brakes on BART strike

Gov. Jerry Brown is urging both sides in the BART standoff to reach an agreement to avoid a strike in “the strongest terms possible.”

The sides need to “meet quickly and as long as necessary to get this dispute resolved,” Brown said Sunday.

The governor also announced that he has appointed a board to investigate the disagreement between labor leaders and Bay Area Rapid Transit and that it should report back to him within seven days.


The move should keep the trains rolling for at least another week, and possibly longer.

By invoking a state law that allows the governor to step into matters affecting public health and safety, Brown’s action also prohibits a walkout or lockout while the board prepares its report.

The three-member board is comprised of Chairman Jacob Appelsmith, a senior advisor to Brown and director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; Micki Callahan, director of human resources for the city and county of San Francisco; and Robert L. Balgenorth, president emeritus of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

Once Brown has the board’s report in hand, the law allows him to ask a judge to order a 60-day cooling-off period.

The brinkmanship became necessary Sunday night as negotiations continued toward the midnight deadline, and with both sides apparently far apart, BART officials asked Brown to intervene.

BART trains carry an estimated 400,000 passengers each day, and emergency measures such as additional bus and ferry service and increased reliance on casual carpooling did little to cut the sting of a 4½-day strike that severely hampered the region in early July.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee welcomed Brown’s decision, saying he hoped it would help the union and management reach an agreement.

“I applaud Gov. Brown for his decisive action so that the people of the Bay Area will not endure a debilitating BART strike on Monday,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said he would look into legislation that “will not simply stop strikes, but … ensure we produce equitable outcomes for workers and commuters during future negotiations.”

After making a series of concessions in a down economy in recent years, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 have pressed for raises that exceed 20% over three years.

BART management has countered with a proposed 8% raise over four years. But the agency also has asked workers, who earn a median salary of about $80,000, to contribute to their pensions. BART employees currently pay nothing into the pension system. Workers also are being asked to increase their healthcare contribution from the current flat rate of $92 per month.

Union leaders have lambasted management for being at the table for only about half of the last four weeks because of vacations.


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Gov. Brown’s action keeps BART rolling at least another week