A former BART director who’s been involved in labor issues for many years said he’s “very surprised” that the transit agency’s workers plan to strike on Friday but he thinks there’s a chance that a strike can still be averted.
Michael Bernick, who served on BART’s board from 1988 to 1996, said, “It’s not over – there’s a chance to stop the process.”
Bernick, who served as Director of the California Employment Development Department, the state’s labor department, from 1999 to 2004, said, “All may not be lost because there will be an enormous amount of activity behind the scenes between now and midnight.”
Bernick said that activity will include BART management, the unions and “a variety of political figures from the state level on down.”
Bernick, who now works for a law firm in San Francisco and is a fellow in employment policy at the Milken Institute, said he thought a strike was “in the rearview mirror” when union leaders said on Sunday night that they wouldn’t go on strike on Monday and would continue to bargain with management.
The current process in which BART management engages in collective bargaining with its unions “needs to be changed” because it is “highly contentious and highly dysfunctional” and results in lengthy negotiations, Bernick said.
He said he thinks it should be changed to some form of arbitration instead.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News