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Phil Matier: BART Tragedy A Catalyst To New Labor Negotiations

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Police and investigators in Walnut Creek where 2 BART maintenance workers were struck and killed by a train. (CBS)

Police and investigators in Walnut Creek where 2 BART maintenance workers were struck and killed by a train. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)—The tragic accident that claimed the lives of two men on BART train tracks on Saturday has brought a somber air to the transit labor negotiations.

News of the accident came just as BART Board President Tom Radulovich and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez were sitting down privately to hash out how they might be able to get out of the labor dispute that is crippling the region.

The tragedy has led to subsequent talks between the mediator and BART.

While it was initially reported by BART that the train involved in the accident was hauling cars in for graffiti clean up, others have called it training run. The truth, it turns out, is that it was a combination of those two things. BART had decided they will re-train managers, who had driven before, by having them move and connect cars.

Meanwhile, the unions and others have mostly have refrained from pointing fingers at BART training because, in part, this is such a sobering moment. Rather than point fingers at each other, they have decided to point fingers on how to get out of this.

Behind the scenes, many Democratic lawmakers who have generally been towing the line with the unions called back saying: “Look, this has got to stop. It’s not good for you, the Bay Area, and it’s not good for the other public employee unions in the long run.”

The longer this goes on, it will look bad for everyone.

BART, in turn, is getting a similar message.

Moving forward, I have the feeling there’s going to be a little less bickering and a lot more building because both sides have a lot more at stake.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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