Friday, August 09, 2013

Compulsory arbitration for the BART strike

Photo by Ian C. Bates for the Chronicle

From the August 6 SF Chronicle, a sensible idea in a letter to the editor:

No right to strike

With the threat of another BART strike looming over our heads, it's high time for BART employees to have "essential services" status and forfeit the right to strike. Like the police, firefighters and air traffic controllers, the impact of a strike is too devastating upon the community to allow for such well-paid employees to participate.

Rich Hart
Union City

From the August 8 SF Examiner, more good sense:

Consider BART arbitration

I haven't heard anything regarding binding arbitration as a means to break the impasse in the BART labor contract negotiations. It is a better option than a strike, and should be utilized whenever public-transportation workers, or other vital workers, cannot reach a settlement.

Tim Donnelly
San Francisco

Why have local elected officials---all Democrats, of course---been MIA on the strike? Because they don't want to alienate the unions. 

From the Chronicle this morning:

Politicians have too much to lose to force settlement
Joe Garofoli

...44 percent of those surveyed think that BART management has made the better case so far during the negotiations, according to a Survey USA/KPIX 5 phone poll of 531 Bay Area residents; 19 percent said the union had.

The SEIU, which represents some of the BART workers, contributed $2.6 million to state Senate and Assembly candidates in the 2010-12 election cycle, according to campaign finance statistics compiled for The Chronicle by Maplight, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes the role of money in politics.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, the other major BART union, gave $311,570 to state Assembly and Senate candidates over the same period.

During the 2010 gubernatorial race, union-backed independent expenditure groups pumped $30 million behind Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign---nearly as much as Brown's campaign raised. The union money was key to helping Brown defeat Republican Meg Whitman, who spent nearly six times that much.

SEIU was the second-largest contributor to last year's campaign for Proposition 30, the tax-raising measure, approved by voters, that was central to Brown's budget plan. Union members dropped $11.4 million in support of the successful measure.

Some leaders who have tried to help the BART negotiations have been told, "No, thanks."

One Democrat is breaking ranks:

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is asking his staff to look into legislation that would prevent mass transit workers from striking. Oregon and New York ban mass transit strikes there. But a specific piece of legislation around this idea isn't expected
for months---long after lawmakers hope this labor dispute is over.

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