We are, very possibly, looking at another BART strike next Monday if contract negotiations between BART and two of its employee unions don't drastically improve in the next few days. As always happens in these negotiations, every four years, there will be tension leading up to or even just past the deadline, which now stands at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 4.
As you surely heard, during the early July strike, the two sides agreed to a 30-day contract extension, which expires this weekend. If it happens, this would be the only instance in BART's 41-year history of a double strike within a month.
Because state mediators have required both sides not to speak to the media about the details of the talks during this phase, no one is sure what the current sticking points are. But participants on both sides have been hinting that things are not going well, as the Chron reports, and they still remain very far apart in terms of demands and concessions.
KTVU reports on the added tension surrounding BART's lead negotiator Thomas Hock. The two employee unions filed a conflict of interest complaint against Hock, who, it turns out, owns a company that profited from the strike by getting paid for bus service. Hock was also just on vacation, and he was expected to be back at the bargaining table today.
The four-day strike earlier this month came just prior to a holiday weekend, so it stands to reason that an August strike would have a far greater impact for commuters, because there will simply be more of them. And as we discussed earlier, BART doesn't have any recourse to hire scabs in order to alleviate the nightmare in the case of a strike due to a rule that's been in workers' contracts since 1979, any non-union drivers hired during a strike have to undergo fifteen weeks of safety training before starting work.
In the event of a strike, East Bay denizens are encouraged to do the casual carpool thing (which came into being during the three-month-long BART strike of 1979) if at all possible, since AC Transit and the shuttle buses BART tried using during the strike a few weeks ago were way over capacity even during a low-ridership week as that was.