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After a year of labor strife that included two strikes by the agency's largest unions, Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) newly elected President Joel Keller hopes to change the labor negotiation process.Keller announced after his election last week that he will appoint a new board committee to investigate BART's labor negotiation policies and practices, and to recommend possible changes to the board and general manager."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," Keller said in a press release. "Our riders and the taxpayers deserve nothing less than our best effort."Keller also announced 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 agency and its unions cannot agree on a contract by the June 30 deadline. He will ask the board to put an advisory measure on the November 2014 ballot in BART’s three-county area."We cannot put the Bay Area through another acrimonious bargaining season like the one that we had this year," Keller said. "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."Also last week, BART's board elected Thomas Bialock vice president. He served as the board's president in 2000, and from December 2008 through December 2009. Bialock serves on the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Project Policy Advisory Board, whose efforts include the new Warm Springs Station and the future BART extension to Santa Clara County.
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