Newly elected Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board President Joel Keller will seek changes to the agency's labor negotiations process during his term as board leader. Director Keller was elected board president on Dec. 19 by a unanimous vote, the third time his fellow board members have chosen him to lead the board since he was first elected to represent District 2 in 1994.
Keller will appoint a new board committee to investigate labor negotiation policies and practices and to make recommendations to the board and general manager.
“This committee will be charged with examining our labor negotiations process from top to bottom,” Keller said. “We need to look at every aspect of how we negotiate contracts, including the system of checks and balances to ensure we never repeat the mistakes of 2013. Our riders and the taxpayers deserve nothing less than our best effort.”
Keller also said that he will undertake a 60-day process to draft an advisory measure that will require future binding arbitration and ban strikes for BART transit workers if the district and its unions cannot agree on a contract by the June 30 deadline.
Keller said he will bring language forward for the measure and ask his colleagues to place the advisory measure on the ballot for November 2014 in the three-county BART area.
“We cannot put the Bay Area through another acrimonious bargaining season like the one that we had this year,” said President Keller. “If we cannot agree, then we leave it to an independent arbitrator to sort it out for the Bay Area and not subject this region to more paralysis.”
The board also unanimously elected Director Tom Blalock as the board vice president. Thomas Blalock first joined the board after his District 6 constituents elected him on November 8, 1994. Since then, voters re-elected him in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 to represent Fremont, Hayward (partial), Newark, Union City and unincorporated Alameda County (partial).
He served as vice president of the board in 1999 and president of the board in 2000. He served as president for the second time from December 2008 through December 2009.