With less than two hours to spare, Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in and averted a potentially crippling BART strike for hundreds of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area commuters.
Gov. Brown called for a seven-day board of inquiry investigation late Sunday, and named three members.
The announcement came after 10 p.m. Sunday night, less than two hours before the strike was scheduled to begin.
The governor's announcement read: "Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. tonight appointed a board to investigate the contract dispute between Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and its unions – effectively ending the immediate threat of service disruption."
BART issued a release that said it had asked the Governor to issue a cooling off period.
"On Sunday BART Board President Tom Radulovich sent a letter to the Governor laying out BART’s plan to focus all of its efforts on reaching an agreement. A cooling off period would, “allow us to continue negotiating while assuring the public that it will have transit service tomorrow and for another 60 days as we continue to bargain,” the letter to the governor stated. "The formal impartial fact-finding that accompanies the cooling-off period will help clarify the points of difference between the proposals."
Union officials said they were disappointed that they were unable to get a contract, but acknowledged that there was good news in the announcement because it meant that service would not be disrupted for the 400,000 commuters who use BART every day for at least the next week,
Contract negotiations were held all weekend with both sides at the bargaining table both Saturday and Sunday for marathons sessions.
They met for nearly 13 hours Saturday and nearly 12 hours Sunday before the governor stepped in.
Going into the weekend it appeared the unions and BART management were far apart on the main sticking issues of pension, health care and wages. A 72-hour notice had been called for a possible strike that would begin at midnight Sunday night
Here is Gov. Brown's full response:
Dear Ms. Crunican, Ms. Bryant, Ms. Sanchez, and Ms. Hamilton:
At the request of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, I am appointing a board to investigate the threatened strike that would disrupt public transportation services in the Bay Area.
This board is appointed under the authority of Government Code, § 3612, subdivision (a), because the strike will significantly disrupt public transportation services and will endanger the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
The three individuals appointed to the board of investigation are: Jacob Appelsmith, Chairman Robert Balgenorth Micki Callahan The Government Code prohibits any strike or lockout while the board completes its investigation. (Gov. Code, § 3612, subd. (b).) The board is directed to provide me with a written report within the next seven days.
For the sake of the people of the Bay Area, I urge - in the strongest terms possible - the parties to meet quickly and as long as necessary to get this dispute resolved.
Sincerely, Edmund G. Brown Jr.