Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that he won’t declare a 60-day cooling-off period in BART’s negotiations with its labor unions if he’s asked to do so.

In a short statement, Schwarzenegger said, “I urge the parties to continue bargaining and to successfully reach an agreement without any strikes, lock-outs or other job actions.”
Schwarzenegger said, “The public expects that the parties will remain at the bargaining table until an agreement is reached.”

BART and its five unions have been bargaining since April 1.

BART directors said last month that they don’t want Schwarzenegger to declare a cooling-off period, but union leaders have said that they’ve considered asking for such a step if talks reach an impasse.

The contract for the unions was to expire on June 30, but an agreement was reached to extend the contract until July 9.

Shortly before midnight July 9, leaders of the transit agency’s two largest unions said they will have their members vote on management’s contract offer even though they don’t think it’s very good.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, are voting on the contract today. The results are expected to be available shortly after 10 p.m.

Members of the transit agency’s largest union, the BART chapter of Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 1,400 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, will vote on Thursday.

Jean Hamilton, the president of BART’s third-largest union, Local 3993 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 200 middle managers, hasn’t yet scheduled a vote for her members because she said she needs to get more information from management.

Members of ATU Local 1555, SEIU Local 1021 and AFSCME Local 3993 all voted overwhelmingly last month to approve a strike if a settlement isn’t reached on a new contract.

There also are two small unions that represent BART police officers and managers.
However, members of the police unions are barred from going on strike.

It’s unclear what will happen if union members vote against the proposed contract. BART spokesman Linton Johnson has said management hopes that the unions would return to the bargaining table.

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