You may have seen Steve Glazer at the Walnut Creek BART Station. Or it could have been at the station in Lafayette. He's also made appearances at the Dublin and Pleasanton stations and had plans to visit Rockridge.
For the past 12 days, the Orinda councilman has waged a one-man campaign against a threatened strike by BART workers, handing out fliers and securing signatures for a petition that makes clear its intentions in the first sentence: "We, the undersigned, support state legislation to prohibit public transit workers, including BART, from striking ..."
It so happens that Glazer is also a candidate for the 16th state Assembly seat about to be vacated by Joan Buchanan -- he paid for his handouts out of campaign funds -- so a cynic might suggest this burst of activism is a carefully crafted publicity stunt. Glazer understands but politely disagrees.
"I know this all sounds like bull," he said, "but I'm trying to do the right thing. In some ways, I wish my candidacy didn't cast the shadow that it does. That's a long time from now."
At risk, he said, are the transportation needs of some 400,000 daily riders who count on BART. The region will be crippled and roadways paralyzed if train operators, mechanics and station agents walk out over unmet contract demands, as they have vowed to do in three days.
He argues that there are ample precedents for government intercession. Transit workers in Chicago, New York, Boston and San Francisco are prohibited from striking. Ditto for police and firefighters in California. With the right piece of legislation, commuters' angst can be erased.
Ordinarily, such a law would be months in the making, but Glazer said these are not ordinary times. "If a strike occurs," he said, "all bets are off. It's going to force all of our legislative leaders to evaluate their positions."
One solution to catch his eye is an emergency bill endorsed by state Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, of Diamond Bar, and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, of Tulare. SB 423 would require BART workers to honor the no-strike clause in their contracts even after contracts have expired, averting strike threats both now and in the future.
The contradiction of Glazer, a Democrat, supporting a perceived anti-labor proposal is not lost on the councilman. He knows he risks alienating traditional supporters by taking the position he has. Several BART workers who've seen him distributing fliers have expressed such sentiments with colorful invectives.
"This is not something a Democrat would typically do if he aspired to higher office," he acknowledged. "The labor community contributes a huge portion of any Democrat's campaign war chest."
But this issue is important enough, he said, that's he's willing to go against the grain. He points out that making illegal a union's ability to strike doesn't have to mean slashed wages and benefits. Police and firefighters unions have proved that.
Does he think BART workers are being unreasonable?
"I'm not trying to get into the middle of the negotiations," Glazer said. "I don't know all that's going on in the backrooms. I'm trying to stay focused on a consequence that I think should be taken off the table."
If you want to join his cause, you can visit banbartstrikes.com. He's looking for support, both now and later. Don't forget, there's an election next year.
Contact Tom Barnidge at email@example.com.