by Armean Megroian
BART workers and their Unions are being forced into a strike which will begin on Thursday Oct. 11th. This will cause congestion on roadways and bridges of Bay Area. But while you’re sitting in heavy traffic and stewing, don’t curse the so called overpaid, lazy Union workers. Acquaint yourself with a few facts first. Of course you know, that you will not get actual facts from the corporate media, only melodrama.
Fact: For BART workers, a strike is a last resort. They are more than willing to sit down and negotiate. It is the Board of Directors who refuses to negotiate.
Fact: BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican sits on the Board of directors of the “Bay Area Council”. A group of CEOs and managers dedicated to lowering wages and deteriorating working conditions for all workers. In short, to put profit before people.
Fact: The Board has spent $400,000 to hire a consultant turned negotiator from a private corporation named Veolia Transportation Services. Thomas Hock was brought in through the back door in an underhanded way. He has a reputation for Union-busting. His general strategy is to push Unions into a strike, provoke public anger and frustration against them, forcing them into taking concessions and pay cuts. That is 400K not spent on safety measures and upgrades for the paying public.
Fact: Managements’ proposed “raise”, is actually a pay cut:
“According to BART’s analysis of its own proposal, utility workers, who currently take home $36,000 a year on average after taxes, would only see their pay increase to about $39,000 by 2017, after contributions to retirement and medical care are factored in. Train operators, who on average earn $44,000 a year after taxes, would only see their pay increase to $48,000 by 2017… That’s about an 8- to 9-percent increase in take-home pay for utility workers and train operators under the four-year BART contract proposal. But when you factor in an annual inflation rate of 2.5 percent, BART’s offer actually represents a pay cut of 1 to 2 percent over four years.” (Darwin BondGraham, “Why BART’s Wage Offer Doesn’t Include a Raise,” East Bay Express, http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/why-barts-wage-offer-doesnt-include-a-raise/Content?oid=3719774)
Fact: The highest paid BART worker was not a worker at all. She is BART’s former General Manager, Dorothy Dugger who received a salary of $419,000 without doing a singleday’s work in 2012. That is on top of $920,000 she was given by BART’s Board of Directors.And the $181,000 per year pension she draws. She is non-union.
Fact: After retirement, BART workers must live on pension alone. They will not receive Social Security.
Fact: In 2009 BART’s Board of directors lied to the workers and misled them into signing away $100,000,000 in benefits and pay. BART workers have not had a raise in four years. BART’s latest offer is tantamount to a pay cut not a raise. Unions are asking for an actual raise. Not an imaginary one.
Fact: Since 2009, BART employee injuries have risen by 43%. In the past year alone the assault on station agents has risen from 9% to 31%. This statistic includes homicide and rape. Workers are asking for safety measures such as more, better lighting and installation of bullet proof glass. Yet the BART Board of directors refuses to spend a single penny to ensure the survival of its workers and the safety of the public.
Fact: BART revenues have risen to above $718,000,000. Its sales tax revenue has jumped to $207,000,000. (Yes that’s money coming out of your pocket) It currently has $125,000,000 in surplus. Yet the Board is unwilling to spend a penny of it in the community or for the community.
The privatization sharks have smelled surplus and are circling. Some Union activists believe that the marginalization of Unions and workers is a step towards future privatization of BART.
Many fear the implementation of the “Wisconsin” labor practices. Governor Brown by his unnecessary involvement has signaled that he will ride the wave of public anger and frustration to introduce legislation which will forbid public workers from going on strike. Such legislations already exist in 35 other states. Workers who defy the law and go on strike can be fined or spend up to one year in prison. In California the only state law prohibiting public workers from striking applies to Firefighters. In the city of San Francisco public workers including Muni are prohibited to strike.
So you see, the future Gridlocks have been brought to you by the BART Board of Directors- six figure 1%-ers!
Not the five figure – 99%, working stiffs like you.
Be sure to fully express your gratitude to the BART Board of Directors next election year.
Send your “love” to:
Paid for by a group of concerned citizens with a sense of humanity!