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No AC Transit Strike for Now; Gov. Brown Steps In

| October 16, 2013
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An AC Transit bus waits at Macarthur BART station in Oakland. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

An AC Transit bus waits at MacArthur BART station in Oakland. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Update, 4:40 p.m.:  Gov. Jerry Brown just announced that he is appointing a board to investigate the contract dispute between AC Transit and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 – ending the immediate threat of a strike. The three-person board is to report back to Brown in seven days. After receiving the report, and based on its findings, Brown can then petition a court to call a 60-day cooling-off period.

Brown’s letter to both AC Transit and ATU Local 192 said:

At the request of the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, I am appointing a board to investigate the strike noticed by ATU Local 192 that threatens to disrupt public transportation services in the Bay Area. This board is appointed under the authority of Government Code section 3612, subdivision (a), because a strike will, if permitted to occur, significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public’s health, safety, or welfare.

The three individuals appointed to the board of investigation are:

Peter Southworth, Chairperson
Josie Camacho
Micki Callahan

The Government Code prohibits any strike or lockout while the board completes its investigation. (Gov. Code, § 3612, subd. (b).)

The board is directed to provide me with a written report within seven days. For the sake of the people of the Bay Area, I urge both sides to take this matter seriously and to continue working to find a fair solution.

Southworth has been deputy secretary and general counsel at the California Transportation Agency since 2013. He held multiple positions at the California Attorney General’s Office from 1997 to 2013.

Camacho has been executive secretary-treasurer at the Alameda Labor Council since 2010. She was director of constituent services in the Office of Mayor Ron Dellums from 2007 to 2009. She is a founder of the national Asian Pacific Islander constituency group and has served on the board of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s advisory committee.

Callahan has been director of Human Resources for the City and County of San Francisco since 2007, where she served as employee relations director in 2005. She held multiple positions at the State Mediation and Conciliation Service from 1996 to 2005.

Update, 3:10 p.m.: Officials with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 say they will return to negotiations with AC Transit later today. Gov. Jerry Brown still hasn’t announced whether he will grant the district’s request to initiate a 60-day cooling-off period in the dispute. ATU 192 has notified AC Transit it could strike as early as midnight.

Update, 9:30 Wednesday: Still no word from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office on whether he will start the process for a cooling-off period. AC Transit officials said this morning they’ve sent a letter to Yvonne Williams, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 president, seeking a resumption of talks in the dispute.

Earlier post (Tuesday): Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to act on a week-old request from the East Bay’s AC Transit for a 60-day cooling-off period to head off what could be a transit nightmare for many in the East Bay.

Yesterday, the union representing the district’s 1,800 bus drivers, mechanics and other workers gave notice they could strike as early as 12:01 a.m. Thursday. That would force the 100,000 or so people who ride AC Transit every weekday, including 7,000 or so transbay riders, to seek alternate transportation. And with a BART strike also possible, a bus strike would eliminate a key option for stranded train riders.

The AC Transit contract dispute has been simmering for months, with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 twice rejecting contract offers from the district. AC Transit officials asked Brown last week to start the process that could lead to a 60-day cooling-off period but didn’t disclose that until the union issued its strike notice.

Under state law, a governor can start the process when he or she determines a transit strike would “significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare.” Just as he did in August when BART was on the verge of a strike, Brown would begin the process by appointing a board of inquiry. Depending on the board’s finding, he could request (and would likely get) a court order for a cooling-off period.

As in the BART contract battle, the AC Transit standoff involves big financial issues. The contract voted down earlier this month included 3 percent pay increases in the first two years of a three-year contract, with 3.5 percent in the third year. But the contract also includes a substantial increase in health-care payments.

“What our members really felt strongly they couldn’t absorb was the cost of the health-care premiums, up to $283 a month,” Local 192 President Yvonne Williams said earlier today.

The two sides have not held negotiations in more than two weeks.

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Category: Labor, Oakland, Transportation

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • IslandGirl

    Who do the transit workers think they’d be hurting by striking? You don’t see the fat cats riding buses. It’s almost like they’re a pawn of “the 10%” hurting the 90%!

  • BEKA

    all this strike stuff is INSANE!!!!!!!! its so annoying!!! and for what more money?, be thankful you got a JOB!! theres people out there that lost theyre jobs, homeless, and looseing everything!!! be thankful FOR WHAT YOU HAVE!! so many people dont even know were theyre next meal is gonna come from but yet you bart people want more money…. people living out on the street and you want more money….. LIKE I SAID BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT THE GOOD LORD HAS GIVING YOU NOW!!!!