SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — In a rare nighttime meeting on Thursday, the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors president introduced a proposal calling for a ban on BART worker strikes, a proposal that was met with skepticism.

BART Board President Joel Keller said he wants the public to have an advisory vote in November on whether the California Legislature should ban future BART strikes. He said he’d like to see binding arbitration replace work stoppages.

“Unless we find a way to do things differently here at BART, I’m afraid our brand which includes not only the board, the management but the workers as well is going to be damaged,” he said.

“To say that nothing can be done is really throwing up your hands and giving in to dysfunction and I’m just simply not willing to do that.”

But Chris Finn with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 said real progress on labor issues needs to involve good faith negotiations.

“I think we disagree strongly that this is the way to proceed,” said Finn. “Labor would see this as attack and kind of a chokehold.”

Meanwhile, several BART board members expressed skepticism and opposition to the proposal. Some think it could could strain relations that are already tenuous.

Keller said the board will continue to study the strike prohibition issue with the hope of deciding by the end of April on whether to pursue a public vote. Any proposal put before voters, however, would be advisory in nature since only state lawmakers could take away the ability of BART workers to strike.

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