Union Busting Hearst Owned SF Chronicle Wants More Demos Like DeSaulnier To Openly Attack BART Workers-They Like Brown's 60 Order Against Strike

Union Busting Hearst Owned SF Chronicle Wants More Demos Like DeSaulnier To Openly Attack BART Workers-They Like Brown's 60 Order Against Strike
Binding deal may be ticket to BART settlement

Mike Kepka, The Chronicle

The day after Governor Jerry Brown intervened in the BART labor negations that posted a potential strike for at least another week, a BART driver heads out of Montgomery station on Monday Aug. 5, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.
August 10, 2013

It's long been established that organized labor has an outsize influence in state politics. But the lack of political leadership during the BART negotiations shows it is not a two-way street: Elected officials are proving unwilling or unable to lean on the unions to reach a deal that would lift the strike threat.

As Joe Garofoli reported Friday, California's leading Democrats appear to by caught between their loyalty to their biggest source of campaign money - unions - and to a public that polls suggest is siding with management's position by a 2-to-1 ratio.

As we have said all along, neither side has shown much reasonableness in these prolonged negotiations. Both sides need added pressure.

But the unions representing BART workers are not feeling much heat from politicians of the party that holds all statewide elected officials and controls both houses of the Legislature.

The one notable exception is has been state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who raises the idea that transit workers - like firefighters and police officers - should be prohibited from striking.

DeSaulnier notes that most of the nation's largest metropolitan areas have such a prohibition. One possibility used in some jurisdictions would be to send stalemates to binding arbitration in a system similar to one used in Major League Baseball. In an effort to compel compromise, the arbitrator would determine which of the final offers was most reasonable. The practical effect in most cases is that trepidation about a winner-take-all arbitration can help induce settlements.

Of course, such a measure might be impossible to achieve in a Legislature where Democrats are so beholden to organized labor.

DeSaulnier describes himself as "pro-labor and pro-transit" - but he has grown weary of the quadrennial showdowns between BART management and labor unions. He is not alone.

BART strikes are more than an inconvenience for the system's riders. The resulting chaos and quagmire on the roads creates very real public safety, environmental and economic concerns. There is a good argument to be made that a region that is striving to become more transit dependent should not allow that reliance to become a point of vulnerability.

The DeSaulnier idea is worthy of pursuit, even if it is a long shot.

If this current stalemate extends through the weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown has signaled he will seek a court-ordered 60-day cooling-off period.

If that happens, the extra time should be used as a heating-up period for Brown and other leading Democrats to increase the pressure for a settlement. The unions need to recognize they are losing the battle for public opinion. If this continues, their many friends in Sacramento may find it harder and harder to stay on the sidelines.