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California Gov. Jerry Brown late last night appointed a board to investigate the contract dispute between Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and its two largest unions, which ended the immediate threat of a service disruption.The governor, who acted in response to an appeal yesterday from BART President Tom Radulovich, halts any strike or lockout for at least a week, according to a statement issued by Brown's office. BART employees represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Services Employees International Union Local 1021 were scheduled to walk off the job at 12:01 this morning."For the sake of the people of the Bay Area, I urge — in the strongest words possible — the parties to meet quickly and as long as necessary to get this dispute resolved," Brown wrote in a letter to BART and union leaders.The BART strike would have been the second issued in a month. On July 1, about 2,300 BART workers walked off the job after their contract expired June 30. The two sides returned to the bargaining table July 2 after Brown sent in state mediators to assist negotiations. On July 5, BART service was restored after the agency and unions agreed to a 30-day contract extension.Although bargaining continued throughout July, negotiators have been unable to reach a final agreement.Earlier on Sunday, Radulovich wrote to Brown asking him to issue a cooling off period that would "allow us to continue negotiating while assuring the public that it will have transit service tomorrow and for another 60 days as we continue to bargain."Brown has asked the board of investigation to report back to him in seven days.
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