Reporting Phil Matier
OAKLAND (KCBS) – As talks continue in the ongoing labor impasse between Bay Area Rapid Transit and its unions, the nature of negotiations took a significant turn over the weekend, perhaps partially due to a push by Democratic politicians.
Many local and state politicians showed up at Caltrans headquarters in Oakland as talks were going on, with most backing the unions. Many of those Democrats have received hefty campaign contributions and support from SEIU Local 1021, which is one of the unions embroiled in negotiations with BART.
Those in attendance made a full-court press on the BART Board of Directors, the elected officials who oversee the transit agency. Some board members even received calls, with Democratic leaders saying that if there was a strike, they could receive opposition when they are up for reelection. Another tactic – state legislators often try to soften the blow by offering the sides a little extra money, for funding projects or helping to cover employee’s costs. But this time, that money wasn’t available.
On Monday, BART Board President Tom Radulovich held a news conference backing his negotiating team and confirming that in fact, there was no more money to add to a new deal. That was when the unions announced they would strike. But state Senator Mark DeSaulnier, among others, trying to calm the nerves of both sides, gave the entire negotiation process a dose of reality, telling the unions that there was no explanation for a strike and that politicians could not support this type of action.
It was at that point where the talks began to change, as the unions understood that they would have to go back to the negotiating table to get some sort of resolution. The two sides continue to meet, working towards a new contract.
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