Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 9:58 pm in BART.
BART’s rancorous contract negotiations could produce the nuclear option – a management imposed contract that could spur a backlash and strike by workers.
It’s too early to say whether or when BART’s 335,000 daily train riders will lose their ride to work, but a showdown is approaching soon in talks that began April 1.
Frustrated BART Board and their negotiators decided to give employee unions until the end of Thursday to respond to the district’s last and final contract offer for wringing some $100 million in cost-saving concessions over four years from employees, according to sources close to the board. The deal would freeze pay for workers, except for a small pay increase in the fourth year of the proposal.
If unions rejected the deal, the board is prepared to hold a public meeting as early as Saturday to declare an impasse and consider imposing contract terms for one year, those same sources said. Board members contend they need cost savings now and delays in getting them put the district on shaky financial grounds.
So will the trains keeping running? Not easy to predict.
Here’s some speculation on the scenarios of what could happen if one or more the unions reject the deal. The likeliest to say no to the deal is Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents station agents and train operators and has been at odds with BART over proposed work rule changes
– the BART board could impose new contract conditions quickly to cut costs, changing work rules and requiring workers to make bigger employee contributions toward their benefits.
– Or the board might consider giving union leaders a little time to take the offer back to its members to vote on the offer. If workers said no, the board would pull the trigger.
– if the board imposed contract conditions, unions could challenge the move in court and let a judge make the next move in the labor drama.
– At some point, union members could consider an imposed contract too much to swallow and – after a day or so notice – strike and bring train service to a halt.
Union officials could not be reached for comment tonight – most likely because they are still in negotiations in downtown Oakland.
And how does the public react to these options? Share you thoughts below.