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California contract disputes: Judge requests cooling off period

The Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) has been involved in extended negotiations with two of its labor unions. The judge in the contract disputes matter requested that both sides take a 60-day period for cooling off. The California judge made the request in an effort to avoid a BART strike that was scheduled to begin at noon on Aug. 12. The judge's opinion was that such a strike would cause enormous harm to the safety, health and welfare of the public.

The judge requested the cooling off period after being given a report that an investigatory board had put together. The report detailed facts surrounding BART's contract disputes and their negotiations to resolve them with its two largest unions. Approximately 2,300 workers are represented by the unions. In July, they went on a strike for a period of five days. The previous strike ended when BART and the unions agreed to extend the prior contract for another 30 days. 

Since the 30-day extension expired on June 30, BART and the unions were not able to reach agreement. The unions were threatening to make another strike if the new contract could not be agreed to. However, with the 60-day cooling off time, the two sides will have additional time, until Oct. 10, in order to come to an agreement. At this time, the disagreement is largely about wages and contributions for pensions and healthcare.

Contract disputes between union workers and their employers are common in California. In such situations, professional assistance can help both sides reach agreement as early as possible. The sooner contract disputes can be resolved, the better it will be for all parties involved – both financially and psychologically. Many different legal strategies, and negotiation techniques, can be used to achieve a swift resolution to these kinds of disputes.

Source: progressiverailroading.com, "California judge OKs 'cooling off' period in BART labor dispute. For Railroad Career Professionals," Aug. 12, 2013

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