Assembly committee votes down Baker's bill to prevent BART strikes

State Sen. Glazer to introduce his own strike-ban legislation 'in coming weeks'

Local Assemblywoman Catharine Baker's initial attempt to halt future BART strikes in their tracks failed last week when Assembly Democrats voted down the first-term Republican's proposed legislation in a party-line committee vote.

But a Democrat-led effort to prevent BART work stoppages may return to the state legislature soon, with the Tri-Valley's State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) expected to introduce a strike-ban bill of his own.

Baker's Assembly Bill 528, introduced last February, aimed to prohibit BART employees from striking after their contract expires if the BART board maintained compensation and benefit provisions of the expired contract and if both sides agreed to a no-strike clause in that original contract. BART workers who took part in work stoppages would have faced dismissal.

The Assembly's Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee completed its deliberations on Baker's proposal Wednesday and voted it down, 5-1-1, with all five committee Democrats opposing -- one committee Republican in support and the other absent.

Baker (R-San Ramon) reflected on her bill's defeat later that day, lamenting the partisan decision and vowing to continue her push to prevent future BART work stoppages like the pair of four-day strikes in 2013 that wreaked havoc on Bay Area transportation.

"In June 2017, the current BART contract expires," said Baker, whose district includes Pleasanton. "We should never be subject to BART strikes again. My colleagues on the Assembly PERS Committee disagree and voted down AB 528 on a party-line vote."

"This is just the first step in the fight to protect us from BART strikes, and I will keep pursuing solutions that will prevent the entire Bay Area from coming to a grinding halt in the face of another strike," she added.

Committee chair Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) opposed Baker's bill in a vote of support for protecting workers' rights, according to Skyler Wonnacott, communication director for Assemblyman Cooper.

"BART is currently working with its various employee groups to repair and rebuild relationships so that work stoppages do not occur in the future," Cooper said in a statement Friday. "Having the legislature intervene in that process now by eliminating a key right that workers have would not be helpful to that process."

Glazer is expected to revive the debate by introducing a bill to ban BART strikes "in the coming weeks," according to Steven Harmon, spokesman for Glazer's office. He declined to reveal additional details about what Glazer's proposal will look like.

BART work stoppages were key campaign issues for both of the Tri-Valley's state legislators.

Baker vowed to prevent future BART strikes while running for the Assembly in 2014, and she followed up on her campaign promise by making AB 528 the first bill she introduced after her election.

Glazer also strongly opposed BART strikes when competing against Baker and two other fellow Democrats in the 2014 Assembly race before finishing outside the top-two in the June 2014 primary. He again took the same strong stance en route to winning the State Senate special election last May.

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