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BART Strike: What People are Talking About Online

Click the blue button below to scroll down and read a sample of online comments about the BART strike.

The Bay Area is waking up to the first BART strike since 1997. Add to that a heat wave that's expected to bring temps in the 100s inland and an upcoming holiday, and you've potentially got some very hot-under-the-collar commuters.

Scroll through a compilation of what folks were saying online Monday morning.
Em Segmen July 02, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Regarding the common element of "greed" or self interest of the entities (workers, administrators, clients) called humans, then there needs to be easily applied rules of law. That would be some form of utility. Rule of law along with democracy is messy. Authoritarian versions of this mess are less satisfactory than not so authoritarian versions. The last one of these incidents is rather long ago. My commute is as messed up as most people's. But I'm satisfied that all voices are heard. One thing that can happen at the ballot box is the requirement that mass transit labor disputes move swiftly to binding arbitration. That way the larger municipality continues to be served by the utility while the dispute gets settled.
TrueRealist July 03, 2013 at 12:47 AM
I'd wager that a majority of the public is behind the management and not feeling sorry for the workers. Too bad it's California and no one in our government will ever have the balls to fire someone. Fire a few people and watch the rest plead to go back to work.
Jon Spangler July 03, 2013 at 01:07 PM
The sometimes shrill rhetoric on both sides is not very productive, and this bothers me more as I get older. (I am upset at both the BART unions' statements as well as one more public BART board member's use of what seems to be an inflammatory anti-union tone.) I do not dispute the facts they use but I would rather see a more constructive problem-solving attitude and a more conciliatory tone--especially in print--on both sides.
Jon Spangler July 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM
@Maria, Do you know how much a BART Director is paid for what is a more-than-full-time job?
Christian Holm July 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM
It is my hope that those "Workers" (more accurately described as Glorified Welfare Recipients) stick to their guns so as to show just how greedy they are.
Maria July 03, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Boris, 1) this is CA, not DC, NY or Ill. For one, thing, in states that chose to have the right to work, and not have unions, most employees, skilled laborers and blue collar workers have moved/transferred to other states where they are protected including CA, which displaces the unemployed all the more. But that's another story. 2) Before people start getting articulate about greed and all, we're missing the point. First of all, unless you live in the Bay Area, the average income earner makes about $50k-$60k a year, gross income, unless you're a barrista, or part-time, or student intern. And I'm talking about single and/or married, doesn't make a difference. 3) No one in the Bay Area, pays $92 for health benefits, unless is $92 per UNIT, which means, for a family of four, that multiplied by four. Why? Bay Area folks, even in the state of CA itself will tell you, that the cheapest healthcare we pay is $450+ and it's NOT free. It's a benefit yes, but we pay into it, every pay period. I work in CA, I should know. It's expensive to live in CA, yes, but it's our home, and Bay Area is our home. Period. 4) Here's a thought: If you've worked 5 or so years, worked your butt off at your job, and come time your contract expires every single time, management says we'll have to take the benefits you've earned and yes we've given you since you were hired every single time, and oh by the way, you also need to increase what you pay into your health benefits, will you not fight for your right? Will you just turn the other cheek and just be thankful you have a job, so they could walk all over you over and over? @Jon, as II understand the Director is paid $500k plus free health benefits, and that's a modest guesstimate. Of course, they also their so-called perks. I may be wrong; I hope for their sakes, I'm wrong.
Jon Spangler July 03, 2013 at 05:18 PM
@Maria, The General Manager, Grace Crunican, is paid something like $330K/year in salary plus benefits for running a passenger rail system worth billions of dollars and administering a $1.5 billion annual budget. This may seem high but there are execs in the private sector pulling down far more money who have less responsibility than Crunican does (http://www.bart.gov/about/financials/index.aspx). The 9 BART Directors each receive a salary of about $1300/month, if my memory serves me correctly. (I tried to locate these numbers in the budget docs but did not find them in the time I had available.)
George March July 03, 2013 at 11:40 PM
So I sure hope a whole lot of City Planners are watching this ongoing BART fiasco and take into account the long-term 'value' of designing Transit Villages and encouraging folks to ditch their cars. When transit breaks down that's just about the last place you really want to be. IMO transit villages and mass housing complexes are terrible ideas.
Jon Spangler July 04, 2013 at 04:52 AM
@Maria, BART Directors are currently paid a little over $1300/month (just about $16,000/year) plus some medical benefits. They receive no retirement medical, pension, or other post-service benefits. They are not getting rich at public expense as elected officials....
timothy July 04, 2013 at 08:37 PM
I would like to see the entire BART control overhauled and replaced. We cannot allow this public need to be operated this way. People need to get angry and demand change here. NOW. Otherwise, it is doomed in the long run....at the pace they are going when comparing the pace of cost of living wage increases for NON Bart employees versus the cost of BART, it will cost too much for anyone to ride the train. The day is coming where a Bart ride from Dublin to SF will cost $50...of course SF can discourage the cheaper car/gasoline alternative (by then) by jacking up parking fees to $50 or more....but on the other hand, only tourists will ever be in the city. Offer NO more on this contract, don't cave in like weak pu**ies just like GM used to do....which killed GM.
Jon Spangler July 05, 2013 at 12:01 AM
@Timothy and all, Negotiations like the ones now occurring are the best way to resolve the problems that exist with public agency employee relations, salaries, and benefits. Union contracts are legally binding agreements that cannot be lightly breached: lawsuits and ill will that both last for years are the guaranteed results of any "slash and burn" instantaneous changes that you and others suggest. (This is not to say that there are not serious problems.) I am convinced that BART and the unions will find a way to resolve their current dispute at the table, and I know that doing so in fair and open bargaining is the healthiest, most democratic (small "d"), and progressive way to develop a new attitude towards pay and benefits at BART.
Jessica Gardner July 05, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Give the workers 24 hours then fire them all.
Maria July 05, 2013 at 01:24 PM
@Jon: General Manager, Grace Crunican, if you dig deeper, is a former super or general manager of Washington Metro who drove Metro down to the ground. As I understand, she's still employed with Metro and getting paid 6 figures and has not severed ties with Metro while employed by BART. And from reliable source, depending on BART's agreement with Ms. Crunican, she was offered FREE health benefits as part of her benefits package. I hate to burst your bubble, but Mr. Rudlovich was an SEIU backed employee, voted into the Board of Directors. He was making just as much as the employees people are hating, and maybe even more now. Of course, they're not going to post that for the public. Ever heard of creative accounting? Here's a thought: if they didn't have money to spend on safe working conditions, which is primarily what the employees are asking for, considering in the last 16 years there have been violence reported and unreported, and they're not even trained to protect themselves, where is BART getting the money to transport the commuters using AC Transit, Muni and all paying them? @Boris and everyone: Try reading http://www.thenation.com/blog/175063/bart-strike-another-instance-media-portraying-workers-greedy#axzz2YBv0jsMC
Hugh Jayness July 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Its so funny reading all these comments of how they wish they could be THAT BART Employee. I would sure like these same people go for a number of years only to see a 2-5% raise and not whine for more. Its so easy to complain when you are on the other side of the fence.
Robert S. Allen July 13, 2013 at 02:10 PM
I hope (but doubt) that BART labor negotiators will do away with the union shop at BART that now requires members to pay union dues in order to hold a job.
Maria July 13, 2013 at 02:33 PM
@Robert: It's always been the case that union members are to pay union dues to fund the union per say, and for times like this when the need arises that the union need legal representation. The union dues are not mandatory, but it's worthwhile. Your brothers and sisters in the union will fight for you and your job when you're unfairly treated by management (i.e. unjust termination, your hours are questionably short on your time card for a pay period, etc), abuse/harassment of any kind in the workplace, you can file a complaint with management, it never goes anywhere. You get your steward, and you can get something done. Why pay? Why do your pay health benefits, Fica, and taxes?
Maria July 13, 2013 at 02:34 PM
@Jessica: I hope that when you're in their shoes, have a family, and in the picket line, you'll be wishing the same thing.
Robert S. Allen July 13, 2013 at 02:56 PM
I've been on both sides of the bargaining table: union and management. What I oppose is compelling public employees to belong to a union to hold a job. No man can serve two masters: the public, and the union hierarchy.
Maria July 13, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Just so everyone knows, the new GM of BART was fired by the Seattle DOT because of snowcalypse 2009 per Seattle Timess. Then Mayor-Elect McGinn handed Crunican's walking papers and Clackamas Oregon hired Steve Wheeler as Head of Oregon DOT contrary to what she's purportedly touting to everyone as her last job before BART. And, where were the supposed BART negotiators at the meetings that they kept canceling? Oh yeah, the chief negotiator has more pressing engagement aka vacation! I think that BART thinks this whole thing is a game. Leave everything to the hotshot lawyer they hired for $400k when they have their own legal team on payroll, because he has never lost a battle against unions. Wow, so bottom line is for BART is to break the union, not to negotiate. There goes your legal right to collective bargaining!
Maria July 13, 2013 at 03:09 PM
@Robert: Ditto. You should know better. Each individual makes a personal decision. We are not obligated to do what we feel we cannot do. Of course, if you're in management, you can't say you're part of the union, either. It's one or the other. Here's a thought: how do you know that the people you meet in public are not part of the union?
Jon Spangler July 13, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I wonder if any of the anti-union commenters appreciate the fact that 40-hour work weeks, paid vacation, medical and retirement benefits, and a host of other accepted norms of US working life were fought for and won by union members,some of whom died/were murdered because they wanted to organize against dangerous working conditions in coal and iron ore mines, railroads, and garment factories....
thedubc July 13, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Oh please Jon Spangler.... The Unions worked back when it was appropriate. Evolution has taken over and these forceful Unions are nothing more than a time and money sucker to the public. Unions should not be allowed in the Public sector period. That old statement about you made will get you no where fast and no sympathy on my half either. I support Unions to a point. When the the Unions start demanding completely absurd items such as the BART Union, they can all keep on striking and BART find new employees. The freeloading of crazy healthcare and pensions are over. Time to start paying the piper like everyone else who are NOT in unions. OSHA and Labor Laws governing our country will take of the rest of the issues. (unsafe work places, 40 hour weeks, etc). Dont like the benefits or vacation, work someplace else. California Democrats just got its first taste of what happens when the ol' powerful Union suckers strike and the Public is furious when they held hostage. Didnt see too many politicians putting their foot down for risk of public procrastination or better yet, fear of . gasp.. not being reelected?! Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector has to go for wages, pensions and benefits. It should have never been allowed and now the Public Sector has taken their greediness to an entire new level. Unionize over labor, or work place or management or whatever, but leave the three out.
Robert S. Allen July 13, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Few would deny the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. The right of peaceable assembly has long been a part of our heritage. Forcing public employees to join the throng - as in a union shop - and strike against the public puts them in the untenable position of trying to serve two masters: the public, and their bargaining unit. I hope - but do not expect - BART does away with compulsory union membership for its employees.
timothy July 13, 2013 at 08:19 PM
The comments asking "who is going to take care of your disputes if your paycheck is short etc etc is pure bogus union scare tactics to substantiate union steward JOBS and mob boss mentality union fight the boss idiocy. I have worked over 30 years as a payroll manager for many corporations and other businesses including union shops and in every accidental pay error mistakes are always resolved to yhe complete and LEGAL satisfaction of the employee. And in any rare case it is not it goes to a labor commissioner. So stop sounding like a bunch of kumbaya Commies. Most people are tired of your rhetoric.
Art Ziekel July 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM
The era of unions protecting the little guy are a nostalgic relic of the past. Today these organizations, like Bart's two unions, have evolved into sophisticated cash machines who's primary purpose is to fund politicians that will support the union bureaucracy. I'll give you union money(i.e.help you get re-elected)and you in turn will write laws that favor union organizing rules, collective bargaining, protecting monopolies, etc. Everybody wins...union bosses, union employees, incumbent politicians. Except now following an economic crisis as non-union blue collar workers claw their way back to some semblance of financial normalcy they see their union peers fat, happy, and miraculously exempt from the financial realities the rest of us face. We are picking up the tab via taxes and bart fares and have figured out the game is rigged against us. We are rightfully pissed.
Maria July 15, 2013 at 05:49 PM
And I suppose the same doesn't work for so-called corporations and bureaucrats trying to break the unions not having evolved in the same sophisticated cash machines with their shrewd, college-educated brownies also known as lobbyists working down and dirty at the steps of the Congress in their behalf? @Timothy: Then you must be lucky you never have to fight for your job when you were part of a union.
Art Ziekel July 15, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Maria, that's kind of my point. Unions that were originally set up to fight for the little guy have become like the big businesses they have vilified for years. Money and power corrupt regardless of which side of the table you sit on. After years taking union dues that funded friendly politicians, hefty salaries for union bosses and ultimately extracted lucrative(and unsustainable) benefits for their members they overreached. Now Bart's unions have a reckoning of public opinion working against them led by the new little guy/non-union blue collar workers.
Jon Spangler July 15, 2013 at 07:01 PM
@Art, If you think the days of unions protecting workers are over, please take another look at the news from Pakistan, Detroit, and any other city you wish: corporations own more of the economy and of profits than they did 110 years ago and it is getting worse. And the "New little guy/non-union blue collar workers would be at far less of a disadvantage if they were union members, overall....Please read my July 13 comment.
timothy July 15, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Maria...being part of a non union business ( somehow I am thinking you would never understand) I have been laid off 3 times. Thst is business. If the business climste is poor you are saying if I had been paying my union mobster a protection fee I woul have never been let go? Job guaratee for life? If the business had to operate under a union they would have gone bankrupt. JUST like GM did!
Art Ziekel July 15, 2013 at 11:04 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/business/union-membership-drops-despite-job-growth.html?_r=0

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