Not So Cool

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We are now approaching the final days of the “cooling-off period” before a second potential strike after weeks of dysfunctional negotiations at BART.

Why has it turned out this way?

In early August, BART management pleaded with the governor for a further 60 days so it could “continue negotiations” and prevent a disruptive stoppage.

As soon as the cooling off period started, however, management refused to meet, telling the unions that the Governor’s injunction did not require that it schedule new negotiations, only that the parties avoid a strike or lockout.

Management has also failed to present any meaningful new proposals during the cooling-off period. Its first “new” proposal came on day 53 and that kept the old base wage offer while adding a regressive healthcare proposal. BART unions, in contrast, have halved their original proposal and agreed to contribute 15 percent more to their health benefits.


Finally, BART’s controversial out-of-state negotiator, Tom Hock, has been absent for extended periods throughout the negotiations. He was unavailable for almost a third of the 30-day extension in July. And last week Hock once again went AWOL during a critical stage in negotiations.

Unless something unexpected happens at the bargaining table in the next two days, there will be no negotiated settlement to this dispute. Governor Brown may intervene to prevent a stoppage, but he should be clear about who has scuppered this opportunity for labor peace: from day one of the cooling off period, BART management has obstructed bargaining and driven negotiations towards a second strike.    

With a perspective, I’m John Logan.

John Logan is a professor and Director of Labor and Employment Relations at San Francisco State University.