San Francisco Transit Workers Strike Blocked by Judge

A state court judge in San Francisco approved a request by California Governor Jerry Brown to prohibit Bay Area Rapid Transit District workers from striking for 60 days.

Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow said at a court hearing yesterday that he saw “no procedural problems or impediments” to Brown’s request. He said he was required by law to issue an injunction if a walkout could endanger the public’s “health, safety or welfare.”

Karnow issued a written order after the hearing requiring the cooling-off period to last through Oct. 10. The order is a final injunction that doesn’t require another hearing, and not a temporary restraining order as originally sought by Brown.

The district, known as BART, and its unions have been unable to resolve their contract dispute. A strike of the 400,000-rider-a-day system would cost the region $73 million daily and would endanger public health, safety and welfare, attorneys for the governor said in a court filing.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said in an e-mailed statement that while the transit district is glad there will be no labor-related service disruptions, it regrets that an agreement has not been reached.

BART presented a new offer on Aug. 10 in an effort to reach an agreement before last night, he said.

“It’s a fair offer that shows movement by BART,” Rice said. “We hope it leads to a tentative agreement but if our unions continue to demand unreasonable wage increases, this court ordered injunction means the Bay Area will not be impacted by our unions’ response.”

Jonathan Siegel, a lawyer representing the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, declined to comment after yesterday’s hearing.

California Deputy Attorney General Tamar Pachter also declined to comment after the court proceeding.

The case is People Ex Rel. Edmund G. Brown v. Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1555, San Francisco Superior Court (San Francisco).

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