Breaking: Governor Will Not Grant 'Cooling Off' Period to BART, Unions

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No cooling off period for you!
Update, 10:30 p.m.: BART workers with the ATU Local No. 1555 overwhelmingly voted down the proposed contract, making the possibility of a strike that much more tangible.

A member of the BART board just told SF Weekly that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has let it be known that he will not grant the transit agency's unions a 60-day cooling off period if asked -- which could ratchet up the possibility of a pending strike.

At around 4:40, Doug Hoffner, the acting cabinet secretary for labor called all the chief negotiators for the transit agency and its unions and read a statement Schwarzenegger will release at around 5 p.m. The governor "Will not entertain a 60-day cooling off period. The public expects the parties to remain at the table until an agreement is reached."

The 900 train operators and station agents represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union No. 1555 voted on BART's proposed contract today; no word yet on whether that was an up or down vote, but down is the safer bet. The 1,800 or so workers represented by the SEIU Local No. 1021 will vote on Thursday. Assuming a "no" vote was put forth by both unions, ATU President Jesse Hunt yesterday told SF Weekly that labor would have requested the cooling off period from the governor, which would have put off the possibility of a strike for two months or more.

Now such a move has been nipped in the bud, and a strike could come as early as next week.

Repeated attempts to contact Hunt today have not been successful.

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