New BART Board President Supports Measure to Ban Strikes

December 20, 2013 10:00 am · 32 comments

Veteran BART Director Joel Keller began his term as the transit agency’s board president with a bang on Thursday by proposing a ballot measure supporting state legislation that would ban strikes by BART workers.

Keller, who was first elected to the board in 1994 and has served as its president twice before, said he believes two short strikes by BART workers in July and October “undermined the public’s confidence” in the transit system and he sees a measure that would ban strikes as “a riders’ bill of rights.”

Keller said he thinks binding arbitration would be better than strikes in resolving BART’s labor disputes, which he said have gotten “progressively worse and worse” since he’s been on the board.

He said, “I see no alternative” other than banning strikes as a way to improve the bargaining process between BART and its unions.

Keller said that in the next 60 to 90 days, he will draft an advisory measure supporting a strike ban that would appear on the November ballot in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

Union leaders who were at Thursday’s board meeting immediately criticized Keller’s proposal in harsh terms.

Chris Finn, one of the lead negotiators for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, said it’s “disingenuous” for Keller to support a strike ban.

Finn said he believes BART management and the board of directors forced workers to go on strike earlier this year by engaging in what he alleged was unfair bargaining.

“We hade a deal two days before the second strike in October but BART sabotaged it by proposing to make work rule changes without consulting us,” Finn said.

Pete Castelli, the executive director of Service Employees Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, told Keller, “Your first move as president is to undermine your employees and to demonize and attack them.”

Castelli alleged that Keller’s proposal “is nothing more than a political move and grandstanding.” Castelli said, “You’re throwing gasoline on the fire and creating a clear pathway to conflict and dissonance.”

SEIU Local 1021 president Roxanne Sanchez told Keller, “I do not publicly support your leadership in any way, shape or form and I think it’s dangerous for you to hold your seat” as board president.

BART management is back at the bargaining table with SEIU Local 1021 and ATU Local 1555 to try to resolve a dispute over a contract provision that calls for employees to receive up to six weeks of paid family medical leave annually.

Negotiations were also held last Thursday and Friday and on Wednesday but there has been no agreement yet.

BART management says it hadn’t intended to include the paid family medical leave provision in a tentative agreement that was reached on Oct. 21 and claimed it had been mistakenly inserted by a temporary employee and that they had only discovered it while conducting a final review before submitting the agreement to BART directors.

On Nov. 21, BART directors approved the contract without the paid family medical leave provision and told union leaders to take the agreement back to their members for another vote without that provision.

Leaders of SEIU Local 1021 and ATU Local 1555 refused management’s request and instead filed a lawsuit two weeks ago alleging that the transit agency’s directors had acted unlawfully and must honor the terms of the tentative agreement.

Members of a smaller union, American Federation of State, County and Local Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 210 middle managers, voted two weeks ago to approve the contract without the paid family medical leave provision.

BART directors voted 8-1 to approve the contract with AFSCME Local 3993. Director Zachary Mallett, who has said he believes BART’s agreements with its union are too generous, was the only director to vote against the agreement with AFSCME Local 3993.


1 YES YES YES December 20, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Yes vote right here!

2 The Mamba December 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Of course it should be illegal for transit workers to strike, as Governor Brown said, it endangers the health and welfare of citizens in our communities.

3 James Dean December 20, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Ban Strikes!!! And crappy employees with bad/greedy attitudes…Fire the lot of ‘em if they don’t liike it!

4 MikeyV December 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Chris Finn, Roxanne Sanchez, and Antionette Bryant can all go to hell.
The mere sight of any of them makes me sick.

Chris Finn, take a shower. Bryant? Nice wig, it looks expensive. Roxanne Sanchez? She looks like a doctor, but is just low union scum.

To hell with all of you.

Oh yeah, parking is going up another 50c in a few months. That’s a 100% increase in less than a year.

5 Howard K Mullins III December 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM

People who work for any sort of public service entity should not strike. Not that they won’t all call in sick at the same time.

The public should be the utmost priority, not feathering the workers beds and bank accounts.

6 Dorothy December 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Since it will be advisory only, that lets the politicians able to support it for brownie points with the public without actually doing much of anything that will upset the unions.

So when will the next strike be held?

7 Call your politicians December 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Just for fun, let’s ask are union backed government officials to put out a statement indicating they back this measure as it protects working families ability to travel to their jobs. Will they do that???

8 ML December 20, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Why is it that these lazy union thugs think they should have some kind of right to negotiate for their salary instead of just doing there jobs. They need to stop worrying about there own selfish selves and take care of us, the public. Why should they be allowed to reduce my personal wealth for the sake of there own? I just don’t understand these people.

9 Howard K Mullins III December 20, 2013 at 11:18 AM

On Friday December 20 at 10:42am, BART reports it is recovering from an equipment problem at San Leandro. There is now a 15 to 20 minute delay on the Fremont Line in the Richmond and Daly City directions.

10 jets December 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM

really keller, you should retire already and hit the gym pork chop

11 jets December 20, 2013 at 11:31 AM

really keller, 68 years old and still reporting to work, 60 plus you should not be working and get a life, try a pull-up for your body.

12 oldman December 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Finally, a voice of sanity. Put it on the ballot and see how the people vote.

13 Anderson December 20, 2013 at 11:33 AM

No. Take away collective bargaining and workers’ pay and conditions will deteriorate.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people wish to forget the lessons of history…

14 RanchgirlCA December 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Finally, somehthing I can agree on in relation to BART.

15 @ML December 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Do you have a right to negotiate your salary, or do you just have to take whatever your employer offers you?

It’s moronic of you to say that BART workers shouldn’t have the same right, just because it slightly inconveniences you.

16 MikeyV December 20, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Hey Anderson, get bent. Take your union lines somewhere else. You’ll get no love here, pal.

17 The Grant December 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM

$2 / day parking @ Pleasant Hill starting Jan 1.

Total BS.

Unions are no longer required. The inept must be paid what they are worth.

Looking forward to signing the measure!

18 Silva December 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

I’m in!

19 ML December 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Anderson, what use are unions in this day and age. Employers are regulated by federal and state laws now. Employees don’t need to band together anymore. All unions do is provide a huge income for the union bosses out of the pockets of the sucker union member. Or are you one of those people that thinks businesses will form groups to eliminate those laws? Businesses compete against each other, they don’t form cooperatives.

20 BART Ridder December 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM

SMOKE SCREEN!! This man needs to GO!! He voted in the increased fares long before the unions got anything. Actually it was voted in during a contract that the unions took 100 million in concessions. He also voted for the almost billion dollar Disney Tram to the Oakland Airport that nobody wanted and will cost three times as much as the shuttle costs now. Then there’s the big one He got Contra Costa eBART which is a joke while other counties not paying anything into BART got real BART!

His own quote for the contract mess that he is in charge of was “Maybe I should jump off a building and leave this mess for the next person” Now thats a skilled leader.

21 Cowellian December 20, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Binding arbitration is a bad, bad idea, and will cost far more than negotiated settlements.

22 Trevbo December 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Unions put themselves out of business in the private sector. The only place they can exist any more is in the public sector where they can “negotiate” with the people they get elected to steal from the tax payer. Dismantle all public sector unions and all public service unions including all transit agencies. Problem solved.

23 Elwood December 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Why, pray tell, are “negotiations” ongoing?

What part of “no” do the unions not understand?

Are they hoping to get their allies the corrupt politicians to browbeat the BART board into capitulation? Again?

24 @Trevbo December 20, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Unions are alive and well in the private sector. You might want to check your “facts” before you post.

25 Attention @ Trevbo December 20, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Did you really say unions are alive and well in the private sector? BLS says less then 7% of private sector workers are unionized. That means 93% are not. Thats alive and well?

26 Peanut Gallery December 20, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Why is it you never post my comments?

27 Atticus Thraxx December 20, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Because no one likes you, your feet stink, you cheat at poker and you don’t believe in Jesus.

28 Cowellian December 20, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Oh, stop sugar-coating everything, Atticus!

29 Russ December 20, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Good luck with the whole “ban strikes” thing. We are screwed, blued, and tattooed. At the mercy of these knuckleheads that feel that they are under compensated. Next time you guys feel mad about a Bart strike I dare you to get in a Bart employees face.

30 That Guy December 20, 2013 at 9:22 PM

I think Binding Arbitration is the way to go for all public unions. I do believe that you enter public service to serve and although I believe in fair wages and benefits for all, they should not come with the inconvenience of those you serve.

However, Mr. Keller is just trying to save his neck. The Board has just as much to do with the negotiation debacle as the Unions. I believe he is just trying to use this as a smoke screen to get re elected. If he can hold on long enough he could be crowned the hero of East County by brining BART 2.O to Antioch “EBART” Lame!

31 Anonymous December 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Binding arbitration sucks for the public. We elect a Board to make those decisions, not an unelected person. Only cowards like DeSaulnier would support it. When he ran a business did he have binding arbitration? No

32 BART Ridder December 21, 2013 at 12:20 AM

East County is already getting eBART it’s currently being built and it sucks. Nasty polluting diesel trains and tiny little stations. This is what we get from Keller for paying for BART!

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