BART on strike

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SEIU reps outside Civic Center BART station during the strike.
PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

BART drivers and maintenance workers went on strike after a weekend of negotiations failed to result in a contract agreement, essentially bringing the transit system to a halt.

The unions who moved ahead with the strike just as their contracts expired at the end of June 30 are SEIU 1021, representing about 1,400 BART inspectors and maintenance workers, and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, representing BART drivers.

This morning I stopped by Civic Center plaza, where union reps were camped out with signs and distributing fliers about the strike. I spoke with Karen Joubert, vice president of representation for SEIU Local 1021. She told me the ten-hour "negotiating session" that transpired at BART's Oakland headquarters this past weekend was not really much of a negotiation at all. Instead of considering new proposals or hashing out details, little exchange took place between the union representatives and the transit agency, Joubert said.

"It's been, come back at 1, come back at 3, come back at 6," to no avail, she said. Since no progress was made, the workers went ahead with the strike they had authorized days prior, which was mounted due to concerns around safety issues, workers' requested wage increases, higher health care costs, and pension contributions. (More background here.)

"We're meeting this morning and we're trying to get them back to negotiate," Joubert said.

Comments

It's about the greed of the workers, who want a massive pay increase and to not pay anything towards their penions (!) while preserving a health care lan that costs them just $92 a month no matter how big their family.

Insanity. The management should crush them.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

I suspect this labor action will last a month.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

I hope it last a year. No pay for a year and people can find an alternate way. Get a car. 62K per year and your complaining. Get over it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

Thats exactly what it is. I hope their enjoying their NO PAY on this holiday weekend. 62K per year and your complaining. Get over it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

I find it ironic that everyone against Bart says that the private sector has to pay for their own benefits such as retirement and health insurance and the government employees pay very little for theirs.

It seems to me that instead of bashing the public sector the private sector should be willing to strike for the same thing. Productivity in the private sector is at an all time high yet wages and benefits are declining while executive compensation is at an all time high.

I find it strange that the private sector wants to drag the public sector down to their level instead of using that to increase their wages and benefits.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2013 @ 8:37 am

Exactly, these bart strikers must be fired from top to bottom and clear this matter once and for all. There are people who are more qualified than these idiots and in need of jobs and would be willing to work. What is guarantee that even if their demands have been fulfilled, they aren't going to strike again and will be a trauma for the people instead of helping out, people getting hurt and getting into road accidents are definitely due to impact of Bart strike. Really, they are no good people.

Posted by Anamika on Oct. 20, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

If it wasn't related to SAFETY, why BART management gave up as soon as their own side got KILLED on the tracks ??!! Management lies too much but they are too good on the PR :P

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

So we now have three public-sector strikes in the works: BART, Oakland City workers, and Park & Rec depts. in the East Bay.

All of these labor disputes are centered around pension and healthcare cost.

Public workers in all three categories pay 0% into their own pension coffers and have defined-benefit pension plans guaranteeing between 5-8% returns COMPOUNDED ANNUALLY. Only the 1%-ers out there still have similar defined-benefit plans. The rest of us have to get by on 401K-type defined-contribution plans, which, by definition, only pay out what they actually generate.

This is the reason that we have huge underfunded public-sector pension obligations in California.

I think it is unfair to ask the General Public to cover pensions for public workers. BART employees are not going to get much love until they start paying into their own pensions.

Posted by Guest lecturer on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

exactly, i hope they get nothing, Bart is already too freaking expensive as it is.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

Second, BART employees pay $92 a month for full healthcare coverage for themselves and dependents.

Most of us would jump for joy if we had such a sweet deal. Those of us who have to pay for medical insurance in the private market are paying about $400 per person monthly for coverage. The cost has risen about 8% annually over the past decade.

BART employees deserve health insurance, for sure. But I, and I think many others, think they should have to pay a little bit more for their own coverage.

One consequence of these sweet pension and healthcare deals is that public funds have to be sucked into them instead of going to worthy causes such as school and public hospital funding.

So buck up, BART employees. Start taking care of your own.

Posted by Guest lecturer on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

The reality is rank and file BART workers make nothing near what the media puts out.

There are already lawsuits against BART for putting out these false and inflated claims of earnings. Millions of taxpayers dollars will be spent down-line settling those.

The benefit packages are what are agreed to. Why should the workers at BART, who already made 100 million in concessions last contract and lake 20 percent less today than they did four years ago, take another 15-20% pay cut?

I understand your frustration however your basis is flawed and your assumptions are incorrect.

The workers deserve a safe place to work and a fair compensation package.

Point of interest, did you know there is not one single person from BART at the negotiating table with the unions? Not one single one. They are all hired consultants - your tax dollars at work.

Lastly the GM of BART was given retirement medical for life for a two year contract. Connect the dots. She is here to try to break the unions and cause a strike and then go back to wherever she came from.

No likely resolution for at least a few weeks.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Whatever bleeding heart. Another union trying to milk the system for their fake a$$ disability claims and over-inflated pensions.

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Posted by fb covers on Aug. 06, 2013 @ 5:20 am

They haven't been asked to take a 15-20% pay cut. They've been offered a 2% annual nominal raise, for a positive real raise. Where did union members get the idea that they're entitled to automatic raises beyond inflation? Oh yeah... their union reps making promises in order to justify their dues. Unions are corporations greedier and more self-serving than the ones they supposedly exist to counteract.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

They haven't been asked to take a 15-20% pay cut. They've been offered a 2% annual nominal raise, for a positive real raise. Where did union members get the idea that they're entitled to automatic raises beyond inflation? Oh yeah... their union reps making promises in order to justify their dues.

And making less money than you can dream of does not make a workplace "unsafe".

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

Whatever bleeding heart. A bunch of whiners who are looking for more pay while they look for reasons to go out on disability and milk the system out of a bigger pension. They should hire all non-union replacements.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

I have no words for how ignorant, misguided and short-sighted your comments are. You clearly have been brainwashed by our corporate culture. One suggestion: If you want to at least sound like you know what you're talking about, learn how to spell. Idiot.

Posted by Competent Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

They say that someone's labor value is determined by their employer. We're going to see whether BART workers' labor value can be determined by how much productivity gain they add to the regional economy.

Posted by anon on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

73 million a day at a minimum is what is being lost daily according to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

There is your starting point. At that value it will be 1.5 billion down the tubes if the strike lasts three weeks.

It is the permanent damages that is hard to calculate the costs of. Business lost or moved, persons unable to get to medical appointments, lapses in timely emergency response are just a few.

How BART workers will view BART management going forward is also impacted. Complete and utter distrust and lack of confidence in management is what has occurred that will last for a generation.

Complete new leadership will have to replace the existing unless both sides can kiss and make up. I think it is far to late for that.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

That productivity gains being highlighted due to the strike is the best argument for why we need to make the kind of investments in regional rapid transit now that we did for BART 50 years ago.

Posted by anon on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

So this is why they let Radulovich get elected BART Board president after 20 years.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

world view around this is unilateral.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

3 weeks is enough time to hire replacement workers. End the union extortion now, and bring their pay in line with their skills. Short term pain for permanent gain. Public employees should never have been allowed to unionize at all. Unions have destroyed our biggest industries (hello Detroit!) and bankrupted cities (hello again, Detroit). We can't let them do that here. Time to end their racket for good. Starting in liberal SF, it will be a shot heard round the union world.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

Public employees work for the public - so the union basically views those who pay their salary as the enemy and at entity to be organized against?

The argument for public employee unions becomes weaker and weaker every day this strike goes on.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

Why don't all working people have unions?

Posted by anon on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

and value, rather than everyone get the same regardless of merit.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 8:39 am

BART adds billions in value to the Bay Area's economy annually through efficiencies that lead to increased productivity If anything, BART employees are underpaid relative to their contribution to the region's economy.

Posted by anon on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 8:57 am

We pay the full costs of BART thru taxes and fares. So we get to decide how much they should be paid.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 9:20 am

The value of the Bart is produced by the capital investment of the public. The employees only play a small role in the value that is generated. The employees have extra value only in relation to their power to shut down the project, and deny services to the public.

Posted by Rationalist on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

The right wing thinks the government is the enemy. So does the left wing (Snowden, public employee unions). Does anyone like the government?

Posted by Hortencia on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

How can they (train drivers and station attendants) ask for a salary increase when their salary is at $71,000 add average overtime $11,000 = $82.000 the strik is not not justified

Posted by Pissed off commuter on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

Train Operators and Station Agents make between 25 and 30 per hour. Go to bart.gov and look at the ATU contract. The pay is between 52k and 62K per yer.

The OT claims are lies as well. You are well fed by a media machine that wants to incite anger to sell advertising without regard for any truth.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

sorry, learning that they make that much makes me dislike these people even more for the terrible job they do for that money. Few of them are good at their job, and never went to college, yet they make a lot more than many recent graduates struggling for work and slaving away in coffee shops and unpaid internships to try to get ahead. Frankly, these bart employees are overpaid already for lousy work. And they're blocking shuttle buses people are forced to take in lieu of BART? I think all these jerks should be fired from the top on down to the bottom, and replaced with a whole new staff before any new contract is inked.

Posted by no sympathy on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 6:41 am

So, your solution to the "overpaid" BART workers is to replace them with new ones? Let's explore that.

1) Let's fire them.
2) Pay for them anyway via unemployment benefits paid by us.
3) Hire a new staff of 900+
4) Train those 900+ to do a job that 900+ others can do immediately.

Sure. Let's do it.

The college argument isn't too strong either. Maybe those that went to college should have put some thought into what they were going to do once they were done with their studies.

I'd argue that these "unskilled" BART workers are a little more skillful at taking charge of their life than some of the recent college grads that are out of work. Their thought process may have went something like this:
"Hmm... Should I pay $50k and put myself through college? Or, I can apply for this job right now and make $60k and enjoy a working lifestyle right away?

Exactly. You can't fault someone for making a smarter decision than you.

I'd like to note I'm not in any way affiliated with BART or it's employees. Just a young professional struggling to commute to the city like everyone else. I'm just not a big fan of irrational arguments. Hopefully this is all over soon.

Posted by Ridiculous on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 11:27 am

Any email suggestions that I've made to BART to improve service has been met with outright resistance and hostility. This is not coming from operational staff, but from management.

I'm not surprised that the unions are not feeling heard. I don't feel heard either when I try to talk to BART.

I don't know what is the best solution for everyone concerned, but I personally would like to see the operational employees get a moderate raise (get real, we're all suffering here, not just you) and for the management to get fired and replaced with more effective management that is open to suggestions and set a positive work environment for staff that is geared towards CUSTOMER SERVICE. Yes, transit should be rider-oriented. Revolutionary concept, I know!

Posted by SFIII on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 11:40 am

The concept is quite good, for sure many will have the same opinion!

Posted by Yachtcharter Lagoon 421 on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 12:46 am

BART workers pay the big goose egg for their pension...they can collect 60 percent of their salary at 55 and 30 years and 97 percent with 40 years...this is totally unsustainable...and only $92 per month for insurance...let's get real before BART becomes one of the biggest unsustainable boondoggles around that nobody will be able to afford!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

I don't trust BART's PR machine but I'm puzzled why the Guardian and other media do not press the union to explain why this strike is about 'safety.' I searched in vain for an explanation in the media and SEIU 1021's website for justification for that claim.

If this strike is not about safety and merely about union members not being willing to share in costs of pensions and health insurance then the striking unions are doing irreparable harm to the public's opinion about organized labor and government services. Public sector unions need to be extremely careful NOT to overplay their positions in this period of general austerity.

Posted by Perplexed union supporter on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

Shill for the management...Nice try.

Posted by Perplexed why BART Mgt is trolling the SFBG on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

Name calling is not helpful. How about explaining what the safety issue is?

Posted by Perplexed union supporter on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 8:39 am

if they have to contribute towards their pension, they'll be depressed, unable to function, and trains will crash.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 8:50 am
Posted by Perplexed why BART Mgt is trolling the SFBG on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

You do know that Bart security gets paid 90k+ for this. And it's pretty BS to claim safety issues, but we're okay with it if you increase our pay.

Here's a thought: Instead of having useless police officers camping on the freeways or watching for speeders, why not move their butts to monitor Bart. 1. Safety issue fixed. 2. Cops actually doing more work (not like they do much else --if your stuff gets stolen it's hardly ever returned, if you're murdered you're dead anyways, and speeding really isn't the culprit for traffic accidents it's the careless and unskilled drivers that are). 3. Strike is over and no change, increase or decrease, of monetary value.

As for cuts to pay. It very well is much needed. These are uneducated and unskilled positions. Many BS, BA and even some Masters don't make as much as the Bart workers. Plus, it's a public sector position. Since when does the public sector mean riding the damn gravy train? Tax payers are paying you... you aren't truly generating any additional money.

This is outrageous. I propose all employed workers that willingly participate in the strike to be fired. Change out the union, if you really must have a stupid union, and cut benefits to post employees immediately --they do it in the private sector all the time.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 8:47 am

I know what you mean, but for this thing we need to create a new set of laws, at least that is my opinion!

Posted by Schools on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 7:57 am

These union hacks are bald-faced liars and because our left wing newspapers in CA our so far up the a&& of the Democratic party and their public union brethren we have to put up with this crap.

Fire them all. Now.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 01, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

The first two columns are Base Salary and Overtime pay. Wow, train operators make more money than many tech people, especially when considering BART's great benefits package of ridiculously low healthcare costs. I am in the WRONG profession (!)

http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area?Entity=Bay%20Area%20Rapid%2...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 9:08 am

Wow! 750 of 3,450 BART workers (including management) get total compensation that exceeds $146,000, including many workers with a base salary less than $63,000. That is about 22% of the workforce making $146,000. If management salaries are a problem with the union, the unions should ask for reductions in compensation for managers as part of the negotiations. But they don't want that - it gives them more leverage.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 10:51 am

Have done that. You can imagine how popular that is with management.

One of the biggest goals of the unions is to shift medical retirement to 15 years from 5. This does several things, primarily:

1). Saves an immense amount of costs, and

2). Ensures that people hired have an interest in working with the organization for more than 5 years.

Management balks as this is the old boys club where the top mgt comes in for 5 years, wastes and much time and money as possible and flees after vesting in the medical retirement.

It leaves the rank and file holding the bag.

It is a time honored tradition of BART management and their Directors.

Posted by Perplexed why BART Mgt is trolling the SFBG on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

Hi, just wanted to mention, I liked this post.
It was helpful. Keep on posting!

Posted by โชว์มายากล on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

Don't listen to the lie's and bullshit see the link below for Public Employee Salaries for the REAL TRUTH on what the train drivers and mechanics earn

http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area?Entity=Bay%20Area%20Rapid%2...

Posted by no longer supporting the strike on Jul. 02, 2013 @ 11:35 am

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