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View Diary: BART is on strike! AC Transit may follow... Can we start the general strike (uprising) now? (89 comments)

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  •  BART employees... (0+ / 0-)

    ...can always quit and get jobs in the private sector if they don't like any particular deal.

    Can your average employee there who makes $70k get a $70k salary elsewhere if they quit?

    And before I'm accused of being anti-the-little-guy, this is the world that all their private sector colleagues live in, every day.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:06:52 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  And why is that? Could it be that there has been (0+ / 0-)

      a relentless attack on working people, and undermining of their rights, and a war on unions for the last several decades?

      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

        It's mainly overpopulation and automation. No conspiracy theory necessary.

        Too many people, not enough work to do, not enough resources to go around.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:21:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right. And population is increasing in Bay Area (0+ / 0-)

          BART unfortunately needs to keep expanding to keep up with the population growth.  Why do you think there's such a push to make it go further than where it is now?  BART's being built to go towards San Jose, it got approval for an extension to Livermore, will eventually go to Brentwood and maybe one of these days, BART will go to Vallejo, Tracy, Stockton and even Sacramento.

          •  They're already working on Brentwood (0+ / 0-)

            It's going to be more of a light rail than regular bart. E-BART I think they call it.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:06:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think it will eventually be regular BART (0+ / 0-)

              The extensions on the BART map from what I understand don't mean light rail.  They mean actual extensions under review.  For now, it's light rail.

              I personally support BART going all the way to Vallejo and Sacramento.  Places like San Pablo and nearby are economically depressed and could use the BART as a means of not only cutting down on pollution but increasing the need for public transportation.

              •  The train goes to Sacramento already (0+ / 0-)

                and the distances are a bit far between some of the cities. Maybe expanding Sacramento's light rail to reach out further would be good. Now if only train prices could come down.

                If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:18:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And more parking spaces available too! (0+ / 0-)

                  I keep fighting for parking spaces at North Berkeley BART station and it's agonizing in the morning.  Never used to be that way.

                  I'd say instead of BART raising prices, it should make more parking available for BART riders.

                  •  It should have a bike share program instead (0+ / 0-)

                    The more people on bikes the fewer in cars and the more spaces available. And not having to worry about your bike being stolen would be a big benefit as well.

                    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                    by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 07:38:30 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Unions need to be accountable as well (0+ / 0-)

        It would be naive for me to think that unions are always saints.  They can be just as powerful and corrupt as the rich business community that they criticize.

        I'm not suggesting that the BART union is necessarily corrupt but they are powerful and they have no point.  I can see an argument on many union issues for low salaries and unfair working conditions but this is not the argument it seems that the BART union workers are making.  All of it is based on salary when they already have lucrative salaries to begin with.

        These BART workers forget that even liberals, progressives, anarchists, and even anti-capitalists do need to use the BART to get around.

        •  They have high salaries because of the union (0+ / 0-)

          Why is this so hard for some people to understand?

          It's not like a bunch of people with high salaries just decided to form a union. They got high salaries because they fought for them with their union. And no, they don't forget that people use BART to get around. They see people using it every day. It's not like they just don't notice the riders.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:09:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. But they really need to stop (0+ / 0-)

            There is no reason why these union guys, while having $70,000 or so a year (which I support) need to be on strike unless they don't get benefits or their jobs are being axed or if their are being put into unfair and unjust working conditions.  

            And no, I really don't think these BART employees care one iota about the riders with regards to their salaries.  I really don't buy that B.S.  They've already fought hard enough and their salaries or jobs are not at risk.  What more do they want?  Mansions?  Gold rolexes?

            There's likely a lot of pissed off commuters today and I don't blame them.

            •  They average about 60k (0+ / 0-)

              And haven't had a raise in five years. They don't get raises unless they strike. They're losing ground economically due to inflation if they don't get what they're asking for.

              And yes, people have been inconvenienced. That happens and it sucks that it has to happen, but it does have to happen. If you think that unions can keep decent salaries without striking then you are very mistaken.

              What amazes me is that I see some of the same people who lament the ongoing fall of unions attacking this strike. Solidarity means supporting unions when they strike. If we can't even do that then we'll never have a decent union movement.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 07:26:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Still not convinced (0+ / 0-)

                Hopefully you're not mistaking my arguments as anti-union.  I'm very pro-union but I'm also conscious of the fact that when I make actions and protest, I also have to be conscious of other people which my actions might other wise be affected.  It's not the fact that workers need higher salaries that's the concern for me.  It's that they chose to strike on a matter like this that's the issue.  The issue of inflation really is a preposterous argument for why there should be a strike when in fact it's very practical to be able to live off of a $60,000 salary and still be in a reasonably healthy condition to continue to fight for better benefits.  It's a more rational argument if you're talking about folks that make supremely low wages where people can barely even afford to pay rent or they can't even save much that they have to threaten to go on food stamps.

                You said they haven't had a raise in five years.  Ok, so why didn't the BART workers fight and protest years ago?  Oh wait, there was a resolution back in I believe 2009 and BART workers avoided striking.  NOW they decide to strike when they didn't strike last year or the year before or the year before, etc.  Why couldn't they just strike back in 2011 and get it over with?  Did the BART union workers keep fighting for years or did they all of a sudden threw a tantrum as of recently?

                In the context of situations that apply to Walmart and McDonalds even, those companies are notorious for bad management and giving employees lousy salaries for all the hard work they put into.  Granted a number of employees probably don't deal with high maintenance situations that BART workers deal with but on the other hand, having salaries as low as $9.00/$10.00 hour is pretty sad given the hours the workers commit and the number of profits the companies make (not to mention CEO and executive salaries)

                Or the hotel workers at say the Hyatt or the Hilton that strike.  I support their efforts because they are in situations where their salaries and benefits do not fully justify the hard work they put into.  These workers protest all the time and are very consistent.

                With the context of BART the fact that unions are involved with it is not what I'm complaining.  I'm just arguing the rational for striking when it already affects not just business (yes, early morning at coffee shops and rush hour commuters do contribute significantly to business).  If I were getting paid a salary like $60,000 (which I can live off fine being the single guy I am) per year, striking just seems to me to be counterproductive.

                And why don't we encourage unions for companies that employee people many industries with $50,000 or higher salaries.  Marketing?  How about a union for Facebook?  What about a union for the SF Public Utilities Commission?  How about a union for Google?  How about one for bank workers?  IT companies?  NASA union?  

                •  Trust me when I say that I would (0+ / 0-)

                  love to figure out how to unionize some of those places you're talking about. And there are unions for some IT companies and for some people who work a NASA. IT is the one that people have been trying to figure out for years.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:21:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Here's the problem with unionizing at BART (0+ / 0-)

                    Private companies are in a different field because if a union affects how employees (and I say non-executives, non-managers) get paid in terms of base salary, then that's legitimate because private companies typically have a greater flexibility with cash flow and are more able to generate business development without any outside assistance (with the exception of VC funding in certain cases).  There's no legitimate reason why people who cannot make a living off of their salaries shouldn't get better salaries and benefits if say there's a flexible amount of cash that isn't being used by expenses, payroll, etc.

                    However, BART is a public agency and can only generate cash through ticket sales and other advertising efforts.  While BART employees deserve their salaries, they forget that the BART system still is in desperate need of renovation and the system still needs to be retrofitted.  Also, Dwight McElroy, president of the SEIU in Oakland says on the BART protests, "This is a labor, community, people-of-conscience uprising. It is our ultimate goal to ensure that the truth about the budget and pots of money hidden from the public be exposed for the benefit of the true owners: the citizens of Oakland and the Bay Area."  Ok so McElroy, what's the truth about the budget we need to know?  So far I'm getting no new information on the unions on this and it's troubling to me.

                    It's also troubling to me that while BART argues the employees get $70,000/year (approx.), the BART unions argue it's $60,000/year (approx.).  Knowing history, BART has never been an agency insensitive to worker issues and has been willing to compromise on this front.  It's not one of those agencies that doesn't pay its employees well.  In fact, salaries for BART employees for a long time have been lucrative compared to most other union jobs in the Bay Area.  Why would BART get the salary information wrong and the unions get it right?  Surely it must know its own balance sheet.  BART management, according to newspapers, have been willing to meet and work with union representatives on compromises but the unions are not budging.

                    Once BART finally gets its system fixed, retrofitted and escalators in a position where they don't continuously go out of service, then I'd see BART unions in a better position to argue their case.  According to what I understand, BART was operating with a deficit for some time until the last year and BART unions were willing to compromise because they had no choice.  Now, with all that is on BART's plate to improve its services and without even state and federal government assistance, it's going to take a huge chunk out of BART's budget to retrofit the entire system (including the transit tube that connects BART from Oakland to SF), plus redo trains, plus improve IT, etc.  BART unions unfortunately are protesting at not the most ideal timing.

                    •  It's not just about money (0+ / 0-)

                      It's also about safety. There have been a huge increase in assaults on station agents in the last few years. Also, the raise that they are asking for will basically mean that they will be back to where they were before they took a bunch of cuts during the down times. This isn't a giant raise, it's keeping pace with inflation.

                      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                      by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:10:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Safety is not just within BART (0+ / 0-)

                        It's also something Mayors and City Councilmen/Supervisors need to come to terms with as well as it affects their cities at large, not just BART.  The issues facing BART aren't necessarily BART's issues alone.  They are issues facing say Oakland, Richmond or even in Hayward, which of course all have BART stations but incidentally, crime in those cities trickles down to BART stations as well.  Most of the crime that goes on in the Bay Area, in my observation, comes from within the region, not necessarily outside of the region.  Unemployment is a factor as well into crime as well.

                        I've contemplated that perhaps there should be a Bay Area Congressional Caucus or a regional Bay Area Mayor and/or City Council Caucus where all representatives get together maybe once or twice a month and discuss how cities can work together to resolve problems, particularly that of crime.  Crime in general, particularly with regards to assaults on employees at BART, is something BART can address but it will require outside intervention as well given the significant impact BART has on commuters.

                        Sure, getting cuts into salaries during the down times definitely merits restoration of salary but there's also a big disconnect with the information that is being revealed to the public, both from BART unions and BART itself.  As I've mentioned before, BART is a public agency so if it has to restore employee salaries to the way they were before, fine, but it also has to use considerable resources as well to repair its service as well.  Bay Area commuters not necessarily thinking politically like we do won't like to see BART employees getting paid great salaries while the BART trains and system are still facing the same problems like they used to have.  Even the IT adoption of Oracle's PeopleSoft into the IT systems of BART hasn't been enough to really fix the transit system.  There's even lack of enforcement on the No Food & Drink policy as well and that can be why quite a few commuters complain about smelly seats at cars.

                        •  The safety of station agents is a BART issue (0+ / 0-)

                          and the management isn't addressing it. It's one of the reasons that they are on strike. You can't just hand wave it away as a non-issue because there are other factors.

                          And yes, BART needs upgrades. I support putting in new track under the bay so that they can run trains 24 hours. It would be a huge benefit for the area and reduce drunk driving. Blaming these things on the union doesn't help. We should be subsidizing these improvements, not attacking a union for protecting it's wages and keeping up with inflation.

                          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                          by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:20:42 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Blaming unions isn't the issue (0+ / 0-)

                            BART unions in this case are to blame for the protest because they're the ones who initiated it, whether we support them or not.  As a result, the Bay Area lost business and not just simply from corporations.  As pro-union as I am, BART unions could have also reached out to State Legislators and the Governor's office but they didn't even try or make much of an effort.  Are they afraid or simply just ill-informed?  Or is our state government just simply irrelevant to anything that matters in California?  This isn't France or Greece.

                            If they can't get fired by BART, what do they have to lose by reaching out to the state government?  "Uh duh, we'd rather stick it to BART and make hourly people lose cash who might not otherwise get it in a business that doesn't even make a lot of money and depends a lot on BART customers."  It's all about, "ME, ME, ME" not about "ME and the OTHER PEOPLE."  

                            Injustice on wages, sure, but we also need to understand what the balance sheet is with BART and we also need to understand what on earth the unions are arguing that merits legitimate evidence there is a problem that is going on in BART.  So far I have seen NO evidence on hand that proves BART unions' case.  Just because BART unions say there's injustice, doesn't make it so.  And there's something fishy going on when neither BART nor BART unions have the same salary numbers reported to the news.  I've always observed BART to be transparent but it's got many problems at the same time.

                            And you are right, BART isn't addressing safety of the agents and management is poor but I've lived long enough in the Bay Area (since 1978) to know that the safety is NOT strictly a BART issue.  Problems do exist within BART that do cause crimes completely but problems also come to BART as well.  Note how most of the BART crime happens in Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco stations but no other stations out in the Peninsula or Contra Costa related stations?  It's a regional problem.

                            But again, the agents get paid $60,000 or more and are not living in poverty.  They can think more creatively in the interim and contact other influential representatives like Willie Brown, Jerry Brown and others in State Government rather than simply striking and putting more people's lives in inconvenience.  This is the 21st century.  We have the Internet and we can think utilize it to think more strategically.  Is all people do nowadays is protest?  This strike just makes the BART unions look bad, even while I do believe BART's problems are blamed solely at management.  And who knows?  There may be people who hate BART train operators now as a result of this strike for blaming

                            But now as we're having this discussion and as I'm talking things with other people, if this BART strike is larger than just simply BART unions salaries and more about BART itself and actually puts BART on notice and forces it to maintain its stations, train cleanliness and restores salaries at the same time, then I'd be happy to protest and gather people together.  I think BART is run terrible and to be frank, I'm more angry and frustrated at BART than I am with the unions.  Perhaps there should then be a BART union strike and BART rider strike.  Now that I support.  :)

                          •  The union's case is that they took a cut (0+ / 0-)

                            Five years ago with the understanding that when things got better it would be made up for at least in part. That's the pay issue. And you the same amount of fiscal evidence either way. A pro business group, The Bay Area Council, gave the papers inflated economic damage estimates, which is the only thing other than salaries that I'be seen. Of course, the names and salaries of every Bart employee are listed on a web site. Why can't management release the info you're looking for?

                            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                            by AoT on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:24:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I just read this from the BART unions (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            I suggest you read it if you haven't done so already:

                            http://www.keepbartrunning.com/...

                            We have tried for months to work with BART’s high-paid negotiators to address critical safety issues in the system.  Workers have died because of the current lighting situation, but BART refuses to address this issue at the bargaining table.  We want to open bathrooms in stations and keep them clean and safe, but BART won’t address that either.  We want to ensure that the system is fully staffed so we have the capacity to keep trains, tracks, and riders safe.
                            The issue isn't just salary, as BART unions point out so it's a systematic problem with BART management in failing to address these other problems as well.

                            My only problem at this point, given what I've read from this letter, is that why BART employees did not contact and notify Local and State Government on this?  They made no mention of any efforts on this but perhaps the BART unions wanted greater.

                            Again, information has been all that I have been looking for and it's unfortunately that as of now, BART has not been transparent as it normally is.  Then again, it has lots of problems so perhaps this protest is really to hit BART hard at the problems at hand, not just in the salaries.

              •  And by me saying it's counterproductive (0+ / 0-)

                I'm just finding that regardless of whether I'm in a union or not, I'm lucky to have a frickin salary that does pay well where I can be able to pay my regular expenses and save.  I'd be more on the edge if my salary would be significantly lower than the $60,000/$70,000 but then again, I chose not to live my life where I'm working at the same job forever.

                Plus, another thing that's not discussed is BART's balance sheet.  I'd also need to examine that to see where the real facts lie.  Earlier on the news, BART had argued that these union employees were averaging $70,000 when union employees say a little over $60,000.  Something doesn't sound right to me.  That's where a balance sheet would come in handy.  If there are a lot of expenses that justify why BART cannot give employees anymore of a raise than it offered recently, then that's something that's justifiable.  If BART's sitting on loads of cash that's not being used, then that's not a justifiable reason why BART employees shouldn't get a raise.

                Ultimately in the end, I'm fine with BART workers getting higher salaries.  Understand though, not a lot of workers in a number of companies who have low salaries have this opportunity to get higher salaries as BART union employees do.  BART also is a public agency so it has to respond as shift as it can.  For McDonalds and Walmart, I do have the option of walking away and not buying items there.  For BART, I have no option but to go to other methods of transportation.

    •  I would KILL for a $70,000 salary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk

      Not that it's the most desirable salary i the world but seriously, I could easily live in San Francisco and enjoy life to the fullest on a $70,000.  Hell, I could even save on a salary and live in a modest home at some point by myself.  When I say modest, I MEAN modest.  :)

      I mean, this is the Bay Area.  The economy's very good here nowadays and my god, it's not as if these folks are living in Oklahoma or Alabama.

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