BART workers are threatening an even longer strike if contract negotiations can't be settled by the early August extended deadline, and they've got a major piece of leverage in their back pocket, codified into their contracts back in 1979. That leverage is a rule that states that non-union train operators have to complete a 15-week safety course before being brought on the job, and that training can not start as long as union workers are still on the job.

As Matier & Ross are reporting, this latest revelation means that BART workers can threaten to cripple the Bay Area's transit system for months on end, if necessary, without the possibility of getting any scabs to replace them. BART currently employs ten train operators who are non-union, and there may be the possibility of hiring back retired drivers, but that remains unclear.

The 34-year-old contract clause is bound to cause more anti-union sentiment among Silicon Valley elites et al, especially given the fact that BART trains are all automated and train operators only have to manually drive them in case of emergencies.

In any event, we should all hope that an agreement can be reached before the current contract expires on August 4.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Administration just gave BART its highest possible rating for safety.


All previous coverage of the BART strike on SFist.