After a brief but extraordinary weekend hearing, a San Francisco Superior Court judge Sunday morning ordered a 60-day cooling-off period to prevent a second damaging transit strike in the Bay Area.
Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow said he had no choice but to grant the strike reprieve, which Gov. Jerry Brown requested Friday afternoon.
"If the court finds that the threatened strike will significantly disrupt transportation services and endanger the public's health, safety or welfare," Karnow said from the bench in Department 304, "I have to issue the order."
But Karnow also said Sunday that the hearing — described by court officials as the first public proceeding in a San Francisco court on a weekend in recent memory — "has nothing at all to do with the merits of the dispute."
The Bay Area Rapid Transit district and its three largest unions have been negotiating a new contract for the last several months with no success. A 41/2-day strike in July left BART's 400,000 weekday riders in desperate straits.
A week ago, as another strike loomed, BART officials asked the governor to step in, and Brown convened a three-member board to investigate the seeming impasse.