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Gov. Brown To Seek 60-Day Cooling Off Period For BART

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A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train pulls away from the Rockridge station in Oakland.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/KPIX 5) – California Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that he planned to seek a court order for 60-day cooling off period on Sunday if the Bay Area Rapid Transit contract dispute is not resolved by then.

His announcement came as union leaders warned commuters that they were ready to strike Monday morning for the second time this summer if they can’t reach a new contract agreement. The Bay Area commute was snarled by a 4 1/2-day strike in early July before both sides agreed to a temporary extension of the old contract.

“I urge all parties to think of the public and resolve this matter without delay, but if there’s no resolution by Sunday, I will seek a 60 day cooling-off period,” Brown told reporters.

Earlier Friday, a board of investigation appointed by the governor last Sunday to examine the dispute issued its findings and concluded that “a strike will cause significant harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare.” Brown’s impaneling of that board prevented a strike during this past week.

RELATED CONTENT: Download The Governor’s Board Of Inquiry Report (.pdf)

If BART management and its unions fail to reach a deal over the weekend, San Francisco Superior Court will consider Brown’s injunction request at a 9 a.m. hearing Sunday at the Civic Center courthouse. If Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow agrees with the findings of the governor’s investigators, an order would be issued halting any BART strike for a period of two months.

RELATED CONTENT: Download The Governor’s Court Filing (.pdf)

Brown’s decision to go to court came just hours after officials with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce had complained that state and local elected officials weren’t doing enough to resolve the labor dispute and stop workers from striking. The business group called for state legislation to prevent future BART strikes.

Meantime, both sides were at the bargaining table again Friday, but their proposals still remained tens of millions of dollars apart on wages, pensions and health care benefits – and no progress in the talks was reported.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told KCBS that management was offering a 9% raise, while contending the unions were seeking a 20% increase.

“We can’t afford that,” Trost said of the union’s wage demands. “It’s not going to happen. We need to compromise at the table to get to a much more reasonable number.”

But Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 president Antonette Bryant said said she didn’t think BART management was taking the negotiations seriously.

“We are very disappointed that the talks have not moved and all we have been receiving are rejections without any kind of counter proposal, any kind of movement,” she told KCBS.

A negotiator for the other major BART union, Service Employees International Unit Local 1021, agreed that progress remained “slow.”

“We’re trying to get a deal before the end of the day on Saturday,” said Des Patten, who indicated both sides planned to continue meeting throughout the weekend.

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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