With the threat of another BART strike looming, an Orinda city councilman is pushing for legislation to ban transit workers from walking off the job.
Councilman Steve Glazer, a candidate for state Assembly and longtime advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, launched a petition today in favor of prohibiting transit worker strikes statewide.
He held a petition drive at the Orinda BART station this morning and was also handing out fliers at the Lafayette station during Thursday's evening commute.
Glazer's call for a ban comes amid ongoing talks between BART management and employee unions as they negotiate a new contract.
Talks are scheduled to continue every day until Oct. 11, when a cooling-off period called for by Brown will end.
If those negotiations fail, the Bay Area could see a BART strike similar to the four-and-a-half day strike in July that grid locked regional transportation as soon as Oct. 11.
"The consequences of a strike are enormous for our regional economy, for the hundreds of thousands of people that rely upon BART to get to work and school," Glazer said. "That is a consequence that should not occur as a result of the failure to reach an agreement."
The councilman noted that in addition to its toll on the regional economy, the July BART strike also added significantly to air pollution as commuters packed freeways to get to work.
"These are enormous consequences and unfortunately, the riders don't have any say in these disputes, but what we can do with the state legislature is to limit the damage that can occur," he said.
Glazer also pointed to strike bans for transit workers in cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, where public transit workers are prohibited from striking by city charter.
He said he would continue to push for a ban regardless of whether BART management and union leaders reach a contract agreement.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost decline to comment on Glazer's petition, except to say that the transit agency has historically opposed binding arbitration, which tends to accompany strike bans.
"BART has a no-strike clause in its contracts, but when the
contracts expire, they can strike," she added.
Cecille Isidro, a spokeswoman for Service International Union Local 1021, which represents the bulk of the workers affected by the new contract, said she had not yet heard about the petition and could not comment.
Glazer's petition can be accessed online at