|Lena Tam, left, is challenging BART Board Director Robert Raburn. A third candidate, Lionel Larry Young, Jr. ran for Oakland mayor four years ago; finishing last.|
In some politically moderate regions of the Bay Area, political races have focused in part this year on whether BART unions should be banned from going on strike, but that question has barely registered a mention in this liberal district. Raburn, Tam, and a third candidate, Lionel Larry Young, Jr. who ran for Oakland mayor in 2010, all believe that banning transit workers from striking is a bad idea. And they agree that the best way to limit the likelihood of a strike in the future is by fostering better communication between labor and management before contract negotiations begin. Yet despite their agreement on these issues, there is no doubt that Raburn's policy positions during the BART strike last year are the main issue of contention in this race.
"This last year was bitter in that I feel like I was unfairly labeled" as being anti-union, said Raburn in an interview. He said the six-month ordeal last year was the "most intense moment" of his life. Raburn said he felt intimidated by the anger that emanated from both sides of the dispute. "It's not like you're elected just to serve the passengers and your constituents, you have these two bodies— management and labor — that want something from you." Raburn said his goal during negotiations was simply to gain a long-term, sustainable plan for BART. Union officials, though, contend that Raburn betrayed them. "I became persona non grata real fast with the union because I didn't say, 'Oh, I'll watch your back.' I said, 'No, I'm going to listen to all sides.'"...
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