Singer staff burns midnight oil in negotiations

OAKLAND, CA: Singer & Associates worked round the clock over the

Labor Day weekend to prepare for a major transit strike that never

happened.



The management of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system retained the

agency in July, when it was clear that contract negotiations weren't

going well.



Two unions had contracts up for renewal: Amalgamated Transit Union Local

1555, and Service Employees Union Local 790. The agreement deadline was

September 5.



"Our objective in the labor negotiations was twofold," said president

Sam Singer. "One was to create a fiscally responsible message that

showed we were protecting the riders and trying to hold fare costs

down." The second was to demonstrate BART's commitment to its labor

force, but also the limitations of the public agency's purse.



Three of Singer's staff were camped out at BART HQ during the week prior

to the deadline. Both sides of the negotiations had polling done to

assess attitudes, and BART regularly kept riders updated on the contract

dispute.



"We had a series of advertisements ready to go had there been a strike,

delivering BART's message to the riding public, taxpayers, and elected

officials," Singer said, "and a series of editorial board meetings

pre-arranged."



As it happened, the contract was agreed upon at 1am on September 4, with

a 22% pay raise over four years.



Singer said maintaining stamina during the week was tough. "The biggest

challenge is the physical and mental strength it takes for anyone to

operate in war-room conditions for any period of time and stay sharp,"

he said.



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