The Lab’s emergency manager James Nunez is asking everyone to continue to be respectful to our colleagues as they exercise their right to participate in a strike.
“As the Lab’s emergency manager, I’m constantly moving between the Lab gates, talking with our security officers and the picketers at the gates. I’m very concerned that someone impatient with temporary slowdowns at the gates will accidentally injure someone with their vehicle.”
In a strike, picketers are allowed to protest as long as they do so safely. For the Lab, this means picketers are outside Grizzly and Blackberry Gates. Strawberry Gate is what is called a neutral gate for the use of construction workers and deliveries. To keep the gate neutral, employees cannot use Strawberry Gate to enter or exit the Lab. Any employee who tries to use the gate will be turned around. “The security team had an employee who was very angry when they were told they could not exit at Strawberry. The driver threw their car into reverse and made an abrupt three-point turn, almost hitting the security officers,” said Nunez.
Nunez saw a similarly aggressive driver trying to exit at Blackberry Gate. The driver, apparently frustrated by the picketers who were legally in the crosswalk outside the gate, made an abrupt turn, reversing into pylons in the process.
Picketing in the crosswalks on Cyclotron Road have, at times, backed traffic down to the intersection of Hearst Ave. and Gayley Rd. This poses a different problem if there is an emergency on Lab property. “We still have people working at the Lab, and if there is an emergency, we have one Alameda County Fire Department crew on site, but if we need assistance or an ambulance, that will need to come from Berkeley. If traffic is backed through that intersection, it will be difficult to get additional emergency vehicles to the gate,” said Nunez.
Grizzly Gate also has picketing, and even though fewer employees use that gate to enter the Lab, drivers are asked to be mindful that their fellow employees are standing on the shoulder of Centennial Dr., a narrow and busy road with blind curves.
The slowdown at the gates is also impacting the Lab’s shuttles. Riders can use the TripShot app for live updates on shuttle timing.
Nunez’s advice? “Take a deep breath and remember you are not the only one caught in traffic. It’s challenging for people on the picket lines, too, and no one is going out of their way to make your day tougher. Remember our Lab values and show respect for those who are picketing. If you don’t want to be caught in traffic, leave a little earlier and get to the Lab before 8 a.m. before picket shifts start.”