SF Court Will Mull Brown’s Request To Enjoin BART Strike Sunday Morning

Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he will seek a 60-day cooling-off period in the BART contract talks at a special court hearing in San Francisco on Sunday if there’s no agreement by then.

Brown said in a statement, “I urge all parties to think of the public and resolve this matter without delay, but if there’s no resolution by Sunday, I will seek a 60 day cooling-off period.”

BART and its labor unions have been negotiating since April but appear to remain far apart.

BART employees went on strike on July 1, returned to work four days later and threatened to go on strike again last Monday before Brown intervened late Sunday by calling for a fact-finding panel to investigate the labor dispute.

The three-person panel conducted a day-long hearing in Oakland on Wednesday and issued its findings to Brown today.

According to Brown’s office, the report concluded that “a strike will cause significant harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

BART unions had threatened to go on strike on Monday if there was no agreement by then and no cooling-off period.

The key issues in the contract talks are wages and employees’ contributions for their health and pension benefits.

According to Brown’s office, if BART and its unions fail to resolve their contract dispute over the weekend, the request for a cooling-off period will be considered at a hearing at 9 a.m. Sunday in San Francisco County Superior Court at 400 McAllister St., with Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow presiding.

If the court finds that a strike will significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare, an order will be issued enjoining the strike for a period of 60 days, Brown’s office said.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said management and the labor unions have been meeting all day and plan to continue to meet throughout the weekend if necessary.

Rice said, “We hope to stay at the table and reach an agreement.”

Des Patten, a negotiator for BART’s largest labor union, Service Employees International Unit Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, said there “has been some movement” in contract talks today but the process remains “slow.”

Patten said, “We’re trying to get a deal before the end of the day on Saturday.”

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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