ATU president Jesse Hunt says some of BART's upper management have joined the talks beginning over the weekend. He says because they have decision-making power, their presence is helping move things along.
UC Berkeley economist and labor expert Professor Harley Shaiken says he thinks while a strike threat is real, its unlikely a strike will happen. He says unions everywhere are watching these talks closely, as a barometer for what a strong union might be able to achieve even in this bad economy.
Shaiken says the BART unions do have an unusual amount of leverage because the BART system is so critical, and it's very difficult to train or find replacements in the event of a strike. Shaiken says its unlikely that BART is secretly training replacements, because in the union-friendly Bay Area, the political fallout against them could be damaging.