Election Blog: BART Strike at the Heart of 16th Assembly District Race

A preview of one of the upcoming races in the June 3 election

Think all the tumult over last year's BART strike is over? Not if you live in California's 16th Assembly District.

The East Bay district that straddles Contra Costa and Alameda counties is ground zero for a retrospective on the merits of the strike and its management. Four candidates are seeking to be the top two for the November runoff, but two Democrats, Steve Glazer and Tony Sbranti, have overshadowed the others, largely because of their polarized views about the strike.

Glazer, once an aide to Jerry Brown, has come down hard on the unions for demanding what he considers huge raises in jobs that already pay well. He's received more than a million dollars largely from pro-business groups. If elected, he promises to propose legislation that imposes mandatory arbitration in place of strikes.

Sbranti, head of the California Teachers Association Political Action committee, defends the strike as the only way for the workers to leverage changes in safety issues, working conditions and salary concerns. He, too, has received more than a million dollars, largely from pro-union groups.

Are there other issues concerning the candidates and voters in the race? Of course, but for these two candidates and their supporters, management of last year's strikes is this year's top issue.

As to how the voters feel, we'll know more after June 3. But don't be surprised if these two Democrats face one another in November when perhaps then the merits over the BART strike will finally be decided--until the next labor/management kerfuffle.

Dr. Larry Gerston is a political science professor at San Jose State University. He also serves as a political analyst for NBC Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @lgerston.

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