Governor Warns BART, Union About Punishing Commuters

Governor weighs in on looming BART strike and potential traffic nightmare

By Sajid Farooq
|  Friday, Aug 14, 2009  |  Updated 6:07 PM PDT
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BART Union Says It Will Shut Down the System

Two unions say yes, one says no and the governator says get back to negotiating.

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Looming BART Strike Brings Back Roadblock Memories

If BART workers went on strike, history shows us the Bay Area would be traffic jam hell.

Looming BART Strike Brings Back Roadblock Memories

If BART workers went on strike, history shows us the Bay Area would be traffic jam hell.
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The Governator wants BART and union representatives to avoid "punishing" commuters next week.

The action star turned governor weighed in Friday on the scheduled BART strike this weekend by warning both sides to come to an agreement or risk the wrath of commuters.

“Delaying negotiations any longer is not the answer," he said. "The majority of employees have already reached an agreement and there is no reason why Amalgated Transit Union and BART cannot resolve their issues without punishing the public."

A strike order, effective Sunday night, was issued by BART's second largest Union after the transit agency's board of directors voted unanimously to impose terms and conditions of employment for members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, in the absence of an agreed-on contract.

The move would strand hundreds of thousands of commuters Monday morning. About 340,000 people ride BART, the nation's fifth-largest commuter rail system, each weekday.

If a strike were to continue, drivers would face a traffic nightmare on Labor Day weekend. Caltrans officials said the scheduled closure of the Bay Bridge on Thursday Sept. 3 through Sept. 8 will occur regardless of a BART strike. Lauren Wonder at Caltrans said the work scheduled for Labor Day weekend has to remain on schedule.

Caltrans said construction on other freeways would be "delayed or pushed back to a time when there are fewer drivers on the road."

Schwarzenegger offered state services to help close the gap between the two sides.

"I strongly encourage both sides to sit down, negotiate in good faith and resolve their differences as quickly as possible," he said. "State mediators are ready and available to help both sides reach an agreement over the weekend.”

The governor's office said the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, under the Department of Industrial Relations, has reached out to both BART officials and the union to help both sides reach an agreement.

Union leaders said the two sides are no closer to a deal than Thursday. In fact BART said on Friday both sides have not met since the strike announcement was made. 
 

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