Senate GOP leader wants to prohibit BART strike

BART employees would be compelled to honor the no-strike clause in their contract, under a bill introduced by state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff.

Bob HuffHuff, R-Brea, also has written a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to call a special session of the Legislature in time to pass his SB 423 and head off a possible BART strike next month.

“The bill is very clear,” Huff said in a news release. “It simply compels the BART unions to honor the no-strike clause in their existing contract. Time is of the essence. With millions of dollars at stake, it’s time for the governor to step up and bring the Legislature back to Sacramento to resolve this pending strike before the governor’s cooling-off period closes.”

Huff notes that Section 1.6 of the Amalgamated Transit Union Unit 1555’s current 2009-2013 contract includes the following language:

NO STRIKES AND NO LOCKOUTS; A. It is the intent of the District and the Unions to assure uninterrupted transit service to the public during the life of this Agreement. Accordingly, No employee or Unions signatory hereto shall engage in, cause or encourage any strike, slowdown, picketing, concerted refusal to work, or other interruption of the District’s operations for the duration of this Agreement as a result of any labor dispute;

Existing contracts with AFSCME LOCAL 3993 and Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 also contain similar No-Strike clauses.

The unions were about to go on strike in August when Brown, via the courts, imposed a 60-day cooling off period. Negotiations resumed only a week ago.

Huff said the unions have been offered a sweet deal while many California families are still struggling, and a strike would cause havoc for the Bay Area’s economy.

“We can’t lose this opportunity. The law doesn’t allow for a second cooling-off period,” he said. “The window of opportunity is closing rapidly, because BART union employees repeatedly shout they will strike, unless their demands are met. The governor and Legislature have the responsibility to act now to resolve this labor dispute before October 11th, when the 60-day cooling-off period the governor imposed expires.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Jim Reilley

    The contract has expired and the clause is not enforceable.

  • Jackson Smith

    That’s the point of the legislation … read again. The clause is enforceable at the State level, and not at the local level. This bill would fix that.

  • Elwood

    moonbeam and the union-owned dimmiecrat ca leg. have ruled out any no strike legislation.

  • DrDuran

    so according to Bob there taking a cut in take home pay every year for 4 years is a “sweet deal?” Wow, I knew he was a Republican, I didn’t know he was an idiot.

  • DrDuran

    no, you can’t enforce an expired contract and definitely not one clause of said contract. If there was a law on the books when the contract was signed to keep it in force while forcing binding arbitration it would be completely different, but this back door, after the fact law has no chance of passing constitutional muster.

  • JohnW

    …Taking a cut in take home pay every year for four years…

    Where to start on that point?

    Salaries didn’t increase, which has been the case for many if not most people who ride BART. So, riders should pay higher fares (a cut in “take home” pay) so that BART workers can be paid more?

    Salaries were already at the top of the heap for transit workers, so why should they go up?

    What BART workers didn’t get in salary increases, many made up for with bogus overtime pay — getting overtime, even though they hadn’t actually worked 37 1/2 yours, let alone the standard 40 hour week.

    Total pay includes what the employer pays for health care — which continued to grow — so pay did increase. Just because it doesn’t show up on the paycheck doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. If employees started paying the 25 or 30% share of health care cost that most workers (including federal employees) pay, there would be money for the salary portion of compensation.

  • DrDuran

    nice ignoring half of my post there, JohnW, Bob said that BART’s proposal is a “sweet deal”, it is not, it is not even a fair deal, but you just want to pick one sentence from a post and refute that, using the last 4 years even though the comment is about the NEXT 4 years. Strawman much?

  • Elwood

    DrDuran sounds like a union shill/troll to me.

  • JohnW

    Dr. Duran — I didn’t ignore anything. My comments pertained to the “sweet deal” part too. The Contra Costa Times and the SF Chronicle editors think the current contract is a sweet deal and that BART has already compromised too much in the current negotiations. The majority of the general public agrees. I agree.

    Regardless of how long it as been since BART workers got a salary increase, the point is that salaries are already more than fair compared to transit worker peers and based on the education, training and skills required. If BART workers think they are worth more, they are free to offer their talents for more money elsewhere. There shouldn’t be any salary increases until something is done about the pension and health care costs.

    How is it not a sweet deal that a BART worker only pays $92 per month for gold-plated health care, no matter how many family members are covered? It’s not “the company” paying for that. It’s all the BART riders. And the fares are already high compared with transit systems in NYC and Chicago, where the trains don’t turn into pumpkins at 12 midnight.

    For a BART worker with family coverage, $92 pays only about 5 percent of the cost of the coverage. As I’ve noted, even federal employees pay 25% of the cost of their health care — which doesn’t include dental and vision. The BART plan isn’t even fair to its own workers, since workers getting coverage for 7 family members pay the same as a single person.

    Then, there are the work rules, which are designed to maximize the opportunity for overtime pay. In the heyday of passenger railroads, they used to call that “featherbedding.”

    This is not about some greedy company trying to screw its workers. The “employers” in this case are the riders and taxpayers who have to pony up the money to pay for the sweet deal. Please make the case why a BART rider should pay higher fares, on top of already scheduled fare hikes, to pay for an even sweeter contract. Not to mention putting up with dirty train cars, petri dish seats and increasingly frequent system breakdowns, so that the money can go to already over-compensated workers rather than for replacing old equipment.

  • Elwood

    In the real world, employees whose compensation is out of line are “red circled” until others catch up.

    All BART employees should be “red circled”.

  • JohnW

    A rare occasion of total agreement between Elwood and me.

    In terms of base pay (excluding bogus OT), I don’t think BART is that out of whack. But when you throw in the OT shenanigans and the benefits, that’s another story.

    They have one gentleman, an engineer in his 80’s, who continues to work, even though he could have been on full pension 20 years ago. A bit extreme, but I tip my hat to him and wish him continued good health.