Top Democrat considering bill to end transit workers’ right to strike


SACRAMENTO -- The head of the Senate Transportation Committee praised Gov. Jerry Brown for preventing Bay Area transit workers from walking off the job Monday and said he is still considering legislation that would permanently take away their right to strike.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said in an interview that workers in the Bay Area have rights that few of their colleagues around the state share.

“Of the 10 largest metropolitan areas, Los Angeles and the Bay Area are the exception,” he said. “All of the other large systems do not allow transit workers to strike.”


DeSaulnier, who called himself “pro-labor and pro-transit,” said neither labor nor management seems to want to change the current law, but the frequency of labor strife in the Bay Area Rapid Transit district has led him to look at the issue. The former Contra Costa County supervisor says that in the 22 years he’s been in elected office, workers have walked off the job or come close four times.

The union voted to walk out again starting Monday, but Gov. Jerry Brown intervened, appointing a panel to look at the issues over the next week. If no deal is reached by then, Brown can ask the courts to impose a 60-day cooling off period while talks continue.

DeSaulnier praised Brown’s handling of the situation and said that given the political climate and the calendar – the Legislature recesses for the year beginning Sept. 13 – a legislative solution was unlikely this year.

“Realistically, I think we’re talking about next year,” he said of any change to the current law. “If I had any interest from either side in doing something sooner, it might be different.”


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