Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: BART Deal Calls for 3.8% Annual Raises; Governor Asks for 60-Day Cooling Off Period for AC Transit

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The tentative deal between BART management and two of its unions calls for a 15.38 percent salary increase for workers over four years, which works out to about 3.8 percent annually. The Chron reports that employees must also start paying into their pension plans and will pay 4 percent in the final year of the deal. The contract also calls for higher monthly payments for health care. The unions also gave up some existing work rules while others will go to arbitration. At least one BART board member — Zakhary Mallett — said he will vote against the deal.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Must Reads: Trainee Was Operating Train in Fatal BART Crash; AC Transit Drivers Complain About Safety Issues

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Federal investigators revealed that a trainee was operating the BART train that was involved in Saturday’s crash that killed two workers, the Mercury News reports. The trainee, who is also a BART manager, was preparing to drive trains during the strike — a move that employee unions had warned would be dangerous. Saturday’s fatal incident also appears to have helped bring an end to the strike, as both sides agreed last night to a tentative contract deal. BART trains, as a result, restarted this morning with limited service and full service is expected to be restored by this afternoon’s commute.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Fatal BART Crash Provided Strong Evidence that Unions Were Right

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Although Saturday’s fatal BART crash was a tragic incident, the killing of two transit workers provided strong evidence that union officials have been right all along about two major aspects of the current labor dispute: Being a BART train driver is a highly skilled position and that BART workers sometimes toil in dangerous conditions. Moreover, union members were right to warn before the strike that BART managers should not attempt to drive trains in the event of a shutdown, because it’s too risky.

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Monday Must Reads: Feds Take Over BART Fatal Crash Probe; Obamacare Website Still Plagued with Problems

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have taken over the investigation of a BART train accident that killed two workers on Saturday. The CoCo Times reports that a BART manager was driving the train, which was on a maintenance run, and that one of the workers killed was a member of the union AFSME, which is not one of the unions that is on strike. Prior to the incident, BART unions had warned that BART managers should not drive trains in the event of a strike because it's too dangerous.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Must Reads: California Adopts Landmark Green-Energy Storage Mandate; Red-Hot Housing Market Cools Slightly

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California regulators adopted a landmark green-energy storage mandate that promises to boost renewable energy use in the state during the next decade, the Mercury News reports. The first-in-the-nation rules, adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission, require PG&E and the state’s two other major utility to buy 1.3 billion gigawatts of green-energy storage by 2020. Green-energy storage, such as giant batteries, is viewed by many experts as the key to the expanded use of solar and wind power. Currently, the amount of solar and wind power generated in the state is limited by our ability to store it for use when we actually need it.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

BART Strike Set for Tonight

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 4:13 PM

BART unions plan to go on strike tonight after negotiations unraveled today with management over workplace rules. One of the unions, ATU, tweeted this afternoon that it had reached a deal with the transit agency on wages, healthcare, and pensions, but that management insisted on changing work rules of BART workers or it would not agree to a deal. Federal mediator George Cohen, who had been credited with brokering substantial progress during negotiations this week, then announced that he had given up, and said he was heading home to Washington DC.

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Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Moves Forward with Coliseum City; Governor Blocks AC Transit Strike

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to move forward with a wealthy investment team that is interested in bankrolling the proposed Coliseum City project, the Trib reports. The investment team includes Rashid Al Malik, a Dubai-based businessman, and Colony Capital, the third largest privately held real estate company in the world. Coliseum City would include entertainment venues, retail, restaurants, bars, and housing, along with a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders and perhaps new facilities for the A’s and Warriors.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: Senate Reaches Accord to End Shutdown and Avoid Default; BART Inches Closer to Deal with Unions

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate have reached a deal that would reopen the federal government and avoid a national financial default — while keeping Obamacare intact, the Washington Post$ reports. The deal, which is expected to pass the Senate easily, means that House Republicans have gained essentially nothing from the shutdown and default threats — other than extremely bad poll numbers. The deal, however, is only temporary — it extends until January 15.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Hidden Costs of Fast Food

by Adelyn Baxter
Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Fast food workers and supporters marched into a Wendy’s on International Boulevard in Oakland Tuesday chanting “Fifteen dollars and a union!” in an effort to gain awareness for the millions working long hours in the fast food industry for low-wages and no benefits. The demonstration coincided with the release of a new study by UC Berkeley and University of Illinois researchers that found that the low wages paid by fast-food companies make their employees reliant on national public assistance programs and cost taxpayers nearly $7 billion each year.

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Governor Signed Bill That Could Boost BART's Revenues and Help It Avoid Strikes

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a little-known bill into law that could allow transit districts like BART to raise substantial amounts of new revenue, and thus avoid labor disputes and strikes in the future. The bill, SB 142, lets transit districts collect assessments on real estate near current and future transit infrastructure. As the Express has previously reported, BART created potentially billions in real estate wealth when the system was originally built, but property owners around the major stations, mostly wealthy San Francisco corporations, didn't contribute any of this windfall back into the public purse.

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