BART Strike: Time to break the union!

BART Directors should break the union or taxpayers should go on strike. I can’t afford these gold-plated contracts. Free pension? No employee contributions? $92 per month health care for entire families? Time to stop the madness. Hire new employees at 2/3 salary with Obamacare healthcare and 401K defined contribution on par with private sector, and straighten out the work rules. Those jobs will be filled with competent employees, in a New York minute; believe me. See the Oakland Tribune editorial on how out of touch the stupid greedy strikers are.

What are striking BART workers thinking?

They’re already the top-paid transit system employees in the region and among the best in the nation. They also have free pensions, health care coverage for their entire family for just $92 a month and the same sweet medical insurance deal when they retire after just five years on the job.

They work only 37½ hours a week. They can call in sick during the workweek and then volunteer for overtime shifts on their days off. The rules exacerbate out-of-control overtime that added in 2012 an average 19 percent to base pay for station agents and 33 percent for train operators.

Meanwhile, BART faces a $142 million operating shortfall over the next 10 years. It already owes a $636 million debt for employees’ pension and retiree health care benefits. Aging train cars and the train control system must be replaced. And BART faces billions of dollars of deferred maintenance and repairs.

There is no extra money. Indeed, future tax increase requests are planned. Every dollar that BART raises salaries must come from somewhere, either more taxes, fare increases or more debt that will be pushed onto future generations.

It’s against this backdrop that workers demanded 23 percent salary increases over the next four years. Their thinking remains completely divorced from reality.

They complain that they have gone without raises for several years. So have many Bay Area workers, including those who pay their salaries. More importantly, that argument ignores that BART employees are still among the best-compensated for the jobs they perform.
It’s time for them to get real. And it’s time for local labor-backed politicians to butt out.

We’ve seen this movie before. We know how well things work out when legislators and members of Congress stick their noses in where they don’t belong. Their pressure led to the unaffordable deals that helped get us into this mess. Neither the BART board nor the area can afford to allow that to happen again.

As for commuters, we feel your pain. We understand your frustration. We are out there with you trying to navigate the clogged streets and highways in this sweltering heat. We know exactly how difficult this is.

We ask you to be patient, to recognize that it’s a matter of pay now or pay more later. If BART directors fail to rein in costs — in other words, if they cave — you will face higher fares and taxes while service deteriorates.

Until Monday, it had been 16 years since the last BART strike. Given the unreasonable labor demands, this one was inevitable. The alternative was a financial train wreck that could dramatically impact the system for decades to come.

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Comments

  1. rootvg says

    Bill, it’s time to do lots of things in California…none of which ever happen at least not in my lifetime.

    Have you looked at the Democrats’ majority in Sacramento? Have you seen the latest figures for changes in demographics here over the last twenty years?

    This battle is over. It’s been over for quite awhile. Robbing from middle class and upper middle class whites to give to reliably liberal voting blocs such as union members, supposedly disaffected minority groups and pinhead academics is the order of the day. They OWN this place…and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    No, California won’t collapse. They’ll just keep asking for more money and we’ll give it to them and they know it. If we don’t, they’ll assemble their mobs (probably on speed dial) and stomp their feet like children until they’re satisfied. We used to punish people who did this sort of thing. Now we reward them, at least in California. In the Rust Belt, we still punish those who deserve it but that’s because there’s simply no possible way to find enough of whatever resource to satisfy them. Ohio is not a wealthy place and it doesn’t have oceans and mountains and gorgeous weather year round and then all our natural resources.

    If you want to live in a state that isn’t managed by nuts and freaks and sexual deviants and the emotionally disturbed or chronically angry, you’re gonna move. If you can’t move and you’re conservative, you’re gonna shut up and take it.

    I’ll have another glass of wine, thank you very much.

    • rootvg says

      Bill, I feel the same way but with all those little squabs coming in from God knows where there aren’t going to be enough of us. We’ll be overrun. We are being overrun.

      We need to go home. This isn’t home for us. You’re a Kent grad and I’m an Akron grad. We come from a place that for the most part still has honest money. People still get up and go to work every day and many still get up on Sunday morning and go to Mass. Okay, fine…but that isn’t where we’re living right now.

      What we need is GO HOME, but we can’t.