Halloween is upon us, and we are down to the home stretch of the campaign season!  Precinct walking in the rain is an experience not to be missed, and with the weather's cooperation this last weekend, we did not miss it.  I've got pulpy brochures and door hangers to prove it.

Touching base with all 128,000 registered voters in Ward 3 is a challenge, but my campaign committee and I are doing a combination of phone banking and door-knocking.   Of course, there is my rolling billboard of a truck...

I had an interview with the Oakland Tribune a week or so ago, along with the other candidates.  Unfortunately, the paper will be endorsing the incumbent, but I suppose I appreciated the experience.  The 3 of us were interviewed by one man, who did not introduce himself.  At the end of the interview, which lasted about 40 minutes, I asked him for his name, which I promptly forgot.  He said he was out of business cards, so that mnemonic is out.  He did say that he is an editor, and that he writes about pension funds for the Tribune. 

The format was as follows:  each candidate had about a minute (not really timed, but controlled by the editor, who interrupted to ask clarifying questions).  Then the editor asked a series of questions, starting first with one candidate, working down to the 3rd candidate.  For the 2nd question, he started at the other end.  For the 3rd question, he reversed the process.  And so on. 

I was troubled by the way that the editor referenced my response concerning proposed work rule changes.  What I said was that I wasn't sure that I was aware of all of the proposed changes.  I did say that I supported some of the changes.  That translated to "...Nancy...could only give qualified support to some of the proposed changes."

Although the above characterization is loosely true, it changes the flavor of what I actually said.  The point that I was trying to make was that not all of the proposed work rule changes have hit the press.  These are contract negotiations, for goodness' sake.  There is an element of confidentiality at work.  The contract changes that the editor summarized in his article are not the sum of the proposed work rule changes.  At the very least, I think it would have been irresponsible to simply say, "I agree with all of the work rule changes!"  Besides irresponsible, it's just plain silly.  

Further, it would be more accurate to state that the summarized changes represent only some aspects of AC Transit management's most recent proposal.  And let's not lose sight of the fact that management did not actually sit down with ATU until April 2010, with an objective of getting $15.7 million in concessions through the negotiations process.  AC Transit's negotiating team wanted to accomplish this by June 30, 2010, a mere 2 1/2 months later.  As I said in the Tribune interview, I've been part of a negotiations team for contracts where the targeted dollar amount was much smaller, and the process took 9-12 months.

Let's face it, these are unprecedented times for AC Transit. The proposed contract changes were more ambitious in scope than any that I can remember, in 33 years of working at the agency.  All the more reason, one would think, to start the process earlier.  Much, much earlier.

I may be among a dwindling few who really think that solutions to problems begin with a conversation.  Right now, I am concerned that the agency where I spent 3 decades is in a troubled state.  The agency truly needs to start those healing conversations.

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