Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, has introduced legislation that would ban strikes by BART employees such as the two walkouts that crippled Bay Area commuters in 2013.
Baker’s chief of staff, Nanette Farag, said that Baker’s bill takes a different approach than a bill by introduced by state Senator Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, last year that would have banned strikes by public transit employees.
Huff’s bill was killed by the Senate Public Employees and Retirement Committee in January 2014.
Farag said Baker’s bill, AB 528, which was introduced on Tuesday, wouldn’t impose an outright ban on transit strikes and would simply enforce no-strike clauses in contracts for BART employees and other public transit workers.
Farag said the walkouts by BART employees in July and October of 2013 exposed a loophole in current law.
She said after the contract for BART workers expired they went on strike even though management had honored the lapsed contract by paying benefits and wages during contract negotiations.
Union leaders argued that they weren’t bound by the no-strike clause because the contract had expired, according to Farag.
She said the bill by Baker, who just took office last month, would prevent strikes by providing that if the transit district honors its part of the expired contract, employees must do the same and honor their no-strike clause.
Farag said, “This is not an all-out ban on strikes and would provide more equity to workers and BART riders.”
Pete Castelli, the executive director for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents more than 1,400 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers at BART, said Baker’s bill is “very damaging” because BART’s management and unions have been working hard on building a better relationship and preventing future strikes.
“This opens up old wounds and makes both workers and management think about a difficult time,” Castelli said.
He said SEIU Local 1021 opposes any bill that would take away workers’ collective bargaining rights and he thinks it’s “very unlikely” that Baker’s bill will pass.
Farag said the next step for the bill is for it to be assigned to a committee, most likely the Labor Committee or the Transportation Committee.
Baker represents the 16th assembly district, which includes Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.