State senator considers outlawing transit strikes

A BART train at a station.
August 2, 2013 8:13:28 PM PDT
With another BART strike on the horizon, one state senator is considering a law to make transit strikes illegal.

If there is a strike on Monday, BART riders know it's going to be painful.

"I think it's terrible. I think they need to settle this so we can all get to work and we're not stuck in gridlock all week, next week," said BART rider Jeffrey Russell.

Other cities have avoided commuter chaos by outlawing transit strikes. It's the law in New York and Washington D.C. Even MUNI workers in San Francisco can't strike.

"We do have a system here in San Francisco where there is no strike clause. It's been helpful. Labor peace is always been beneficial, particularly with transit systems," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

But prohibiting a BART strike would require a state law.

State Senator Mark Desaulnier, D-Concord, may be the first to offer up a bill as soon as January which would prevent BART workers from walking off the job and management from enacting lockouts in the future.

"I'm more convinced that this is an option for BART to take and one for legislature to pursue," said Desaulnier.

The senator knows the idea won't be popular with transit unions.

"I'm not unsympathetic with rank-and-file, I think they need wages and benefits that are good for the Bay Area. But, having said all that, this doesn't work," he said.

Not everyone believes Sacramento needs to get involved.

"I don't know if we need laws to settle that," said Russell.

For now, many riders are just thinking about getting to work on Monday.


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