I have introduced legislation that would compel BART employees to honor the no-strike clause in their labor contract. SB 423 was introduced to prompt a solution and provide the San Francisco Bay Area some relief from the pending BART strike in October. In a letter to Governor Brown, I asked that the governor call a special session of the Legislature in time to avoid a BART strike.

The bill is very clear.  It simply compels the BART unions to honor the no-strike clause in their existing contract. Time is of the essence. With millions of dollars at stake, it’s time for the governor to step up and bring the Legislature back to Sacramento to resolve this pending strike before the governor’s cooling-off period closes.

Section 1.6 of the Amalgamated Transit Union Unit 1555’s current 2009-2013 contract includes the following language:

Existing contracts with AFSCME LOCAL 3993 and Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 also contain similar No-Strike clauses.

BART workers have already been offered a 10 percent pay raise in exchange for reasonable contributions to their own health and pension benefits.  The vast majority of California families are still reeling from pay cuts and job losses they’ve suffered these past five years and most would eagerly welcome such a deal.

BART employees are demanding a 21% pay raise, no increase in their $92 a month health contributions, and currently pay nothing for their Cadillac pensions.  The state Legislature should not sit idly by while a tiny percentage of workers take it upon themselves to cripple an entire region.

The Bay Area Council states that a BART strike costs $73 million dollars in losses, per day, and that doesn’t account for all the spillover effects. Adding extra busses and ferry service costs even more. The time to act is now.

We can’t lose this opportunity. The law doesn’t allow for a second cooling off period. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly, because BART union employees repeatedly shout they will strike, unless their demands are met. The governor and Legislature have the responsibility to act now to resolve this labor dispute before October 11th, when the 60-day cooling-off period the governor imposed expires.

The language for SB 423 is here.