BART strike halted for 60-day cooling-off period, court says

Alex Mousouris/Staff

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A BART strike has once again been averted — this time until Oct. 10 — following a court-ordered cooling-off period requested by Gov. Jerry Brown and granted Sunday.

The order, given by a San Francisco Superior Court judge, will last 60 days and is intended to alleviate some of the pressure that has characterized negotiations between BART workers and administrators in recent weeks.

The order states that BART unions are now forbidden from striking because a strike, or even the threat of a strike, poses public health and safety risks.

BART unions and administrators are expected to continue negotiations during the cooling-off period in hopes that a contract can be settled before the period expires. If the Oct. 10 deadline passes, BART unions will be authorized to strike, as the governor can only call for one cooling-off period.

“BART is grateful San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow has granted Governor Brown’s request for a 60 day cooling off period, ensuring BART trains will continue to run while the District seeks fair and financially sustainable contract agreements with its unions,” said BART spokesperson Rick Rice in a statement.

The injunction follows a seven-day cooling-off period ordered by Brown last Sunday while an appointed board investigated the facts and positions of parties in the dispute.

The board’s report, published Saturday, found that a strike by BART workers — like the four-day strike in July — would cause “significant harm to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.”

“Were the unions to strike at the end of the 7-day cooling off period, the resulting increased congestion would result in an increase in traffic accidents,” the report states. “It would also result in slower response times by emergency personnel responding to those accidents, as well as other public emergencies.”

The report also notes that the parties involved in the dispute are still far from an agreement.

“The parties do not agree on the magnitude of the gap in their respective economic proposals,” the report states. “Other specific unresolved issues are the unions’ proposals for increased workplace safety measures and BART’s proposals for increased rights regarding workforce management.”

Jacob Brown is a news editor. Contact him at [email protected]