Pickets during July's BART four-day BART strike. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Pickets during July’s four-day BART strike. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The latest: BART Strike Saturday Update: Talks Resume After Delay

Update: 11:55 p.m. BART and its two biggest labor unions have just announced that talks are breaking up for the night and will continue tomorrow at 10 a.m. There will be no strike tonight. But the unions issued a 72-hour notice of a strike, meaning a walkout could begin as early as midnight Sunday.

The announcement means BART will run regular service Friday and over the weekend while negotiators try to settle a contract dispute that has persisted despite more than six months of negotiations. Despite announcing tentative progress on worker pension payments last week, the two sides are apparently still far apart on pay and health-care benefits.

Roxanne Sanchez, president of SEIU Local 1021, said the unions were were encouraged that two members of the BART board of directors — who were not named — and other “Bay Area legislative leaders” had joined the talks. Sanchez also said that she expected BART General Manager Grace Crunican would join the talks Friday and remain involved until an agreement is reached.

“We believe that these developments can only help bring a resolution to these long, drawn-out negotiations, and for this reason we will continue bargaining throughout the weekend,” Sanchez said. She also expressed hope that there’s still time for a settlement before the 12:01 a.m. Monday strike deadline.

“With the board getting involved and the legislative leaders assisting and the general manager willing to sit down at the bargaining table that the unions are continuing to negotiate and hope to avoid a strike,” she said.

Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said she was disappointed that the intensive talks of the last few days have not led to a new contract. “On behalf of ATU, I am bitterly disappointed that did not take place,” Bryant said. “Everything is in place, like I said earlier today, to get that agreement done. The fact of the matter is, the district did not come to the table to take care of that.”

Bryant said the unions want Crunican directly involved in the negotiations because “the other people at the table do not have the authority to get the deal done. We want her at the table because she does.”

Here’s the KRON4 video featuring the late-night statements from Sanchez and BART chief negotiator Thomas Hock:

Update: 11:45 p.m. Thursday: The BART talks continue in Oakland, with a couple of interesting wrinkles to report. First, despite BART saying more than six hours ago that it was about to present a new offer to the unions, that offer has not yet been presented. Reporter Alex Emslie has been staking out the talks all evening for KQED, and said BART spokesman Jim Allison acknowledged the agency hadn’t presented the offer after the earlier announcement. He suggested it was because state and federal mediators control the negotiation agenda.

What everyone wants to know is will the trains be running in the morning. We still don’t have a certain answer on that with just half an hour to go before Gov. Jerry Brown’s 60-day cooling-off periood, called in August to give BART and the unions time to sort all this out, expires.

Meantime, KRON4 reports that a court in San Francisco has freed the infamous naked 16th Street BART gymnast. Yeiner Perez was arrested at the station in May after a frightening escapade during which he physically accosted several passengers, threatened others, and did an extended impromptu acrobatic routine. Unions publicized a video of the incident (here) to highlight their contention that BART management has not paid enough attention to their safety concerns in contract talks.

Update: 5:15 p.m. Thursday: Mercury News reporter Mike Rosenberg reports that “as of 5 p.m., negotiations were continuing, but no deal had been reached and the unions had not announced whether they would strike.”

BART negotiators were preparing to submit a new offer Thursday afternoon in hopes of averting a strike.

Earlier, Rosenberg tweeted

The graph is from a new poll by SurveyUSA. It shows that support for the unions has dropped: Fifty-four percent of respondents say that the unions should accept BART management’s offer, up from 40 percent on Oct. 4. Sixteen percent say BART should accept the unions’ offer, down from 24 percent on Oct. 4.

Update: 2:30 p.m. Thursday: With less than 12 hours until another BART strike becomes possible, union representatives appeared at this morning’s open BART board meeting in Oakland and repeated charges that the agency has backed away from the terms of a tentative agreement. Union comments also suggest that BART’s pay offer — a 10 percent increase over four years, at the same time workers make new pension contributions and increase what they pay for medical benefits — is still a huge stumbling block.

Alex Emslie, reporting for KQED from the meeting, says union members called on the board to send General Manager Grace Crunican into the talks as time has grown too short to conduct the back-and-forth through state and federal mediators. But BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said Crunican would enter the talks only when negotiators were “inches away” from an agreement, and that hasn’t happened yet. The two sides resumed negotiations at Caltrans District 4 headquarters in Oakland at 1:30 p.m.

The BART board unanimously approved a plan to spend up to $400,000 a day on replacement bus service if workers go out on strike.

Some of the meeting comments live-tweeted by reporters at this morning’s session:

Earlier post: BART unions are angrily accusing management of backing away from a possible contract agreement while the agency says a “miscommunication” is to blame for a new misunderstanding with the unions.

The BART chapter of SEIU Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 issued a statement Wednesday night saying the agency had “pulled the rug from underneath the unions as well as the entire Bay Area” by withdrawing an offer they said had moved the two sides close to an agreement.

“Today, the unions came to the bargaining table with the hope that we could close the gap and reach a final agreement,” the statement said. “However, we were completely taken aback when BART Management backed up and withdrew their offer, claiming to have been confused the day before.” The statement accused BART of lying to the unions.

But BART spokesman Jim Allison said the unions had gotten it wrong. “It is not true that we had a proposal on the table that was withdrawn. I think it’s more a case of miscommunication involving the mediator, working between all three parties,” he told reporters outside Caltrans’ District 4 headquarters in Oakland, where the talks have been underway.

Both BART and the unions said they would return to talks Thursday — after a 9 a.m. BART board meeting at which directors are expected to discuss spending as much as $400,000 a day on replacement bus service in the event of another strike.

The dispute comes after several days of publicly conciliatory comments from both sides in the talks and raises concerns that the unions could strike when a 60-day cooling-off period ends at midnight tonight. Unions have not issued a notice that they intend to strike now, but that notice is optional. Several major issues reportedly remain unresolved in the talks, including pay, health care benefits, and what union members will pay into their pensions.

A new SurveyUSA poll for San Francisco’s KPIX-Channel 5 suggests the public wants the BART standoff resolved once and for all. The survey of 800 adults, conducted Wednesday, shows that 60 percent strongly oppose a strike while 12 percent strongly support one. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they agreed state law should be changed to ban future strikes while 38 percent said the law should stay as it is.

Before Wednesday night’s dispute, union officials had expressed confidence that a new contract was within reach.

“We’re less than $30 million apart,” said Chris Finn, part of the negotiating team for ATU Local 1555. “And with a $127 million surplus one year, and they have that surplus, at least, every year for the next 10 years, it’s well within their power to resolve this and settle this immediately.”

In an interview with KTVU, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said that surplus is to cover the agency’s bond debt payments and capital expenses like replacing its aging fleet of train cars and improving infrastructure. “They would like that money not to go into capital improvement but instead go into the pockets of the unions,” Crunican said. “And we need to find a fair way to provide compensation for our folks, but not investing in our capital and not paying our debt are not good choices.”

Here’s video of Crunican’s interview with KTVU’s Tom Vacar:

Update, 3:45 p.m. Tuesday: Negotiations continue at Caltrans District 4 headquarters in Oakland. San Francisco Chronicle transportation reporter Michael Cabanatuan told KQED that reporters monitoring the talks say it’s a little hard to tell exactly where the talks are between BART and union negotiators at this point: “There’s a media blackout. They’ve all agreed voluntarily that they won’t talk to the media about what’s going on at the table, but they all indicate that there’s some progress being made, perhaps slow progress but progress nonetheless. The mood does seem a little different. It doesn’t seem quite as somber or quite as angry, and that’s a good indication.”

KQED’s Andrew Stelzer reports that Bay Area business leaders are calling on employers to be prepared and be flexible in case talks break down. “We are prepared to tell our members…to change work schedules, to use flex time, to encourage carpools, to encourage work from home,” said Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “Because we have to reduce travel on all the roads of the region if we’re going to not suffer just an economically damaging level of gridlock.”

Update, 5:30 p.m. Monday: Officials for BART’s two biggest unions just announced that they will not issue a 72-hour strike notice tonight and that talks with transit agency officials are continuing through state and federal mediators. Officials for the BART chapter of SEIU Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 said they were holding off issuing a strike notice to preserve every option as a court-imposed cooling-off period gets set to expire later this week.

Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury-News offers some context on past strike notices and on where the negotiations are now:

The unions issued strike notices three days prior to a work stoppage in July and before a pending strike in August that was later averted.

The announcements are not required, however, and unions left the door open for a possible walkout if a deal is not reached by Thursday night’s deadline. The strike notice is meant only as a courtesy so the 200,000 people who ride BART roundtrip each day could start looking for back-up plans to get around.

Going into negotiations on Monday, BART said it was about $89 million apart from the unions over four years, but the labor groups have pegged the gap at $30 million over three years. Progress was reported last week, however, when both sides swapped a series of counterproposals after months where both sides barely blinked. Using BART’s math, they bridged the gap by about $23 million last week.

Original post: The 60-day cooling-off period in the BART labor standoff is set to expire late Thursday night, and new poll numbers show that Bay Area residents remain very unhappy with the prospect of a transit strike. With negotiations continuing, there are new signs that the two sides may finally be closing the gap in the contract positions they’ve staked out.

The main issues still to be resolved center on pay, pensions, and medical benefits. The difference between the two sides is reportedly down to a total of $89 million over the life of the new proposed contract. Talks continue today.

One sign that the hardline positions in the standoff may be softening is that BART has apparently dropped plans to have supervisors run limited train service during a work stoppage. In its latest update on strike planning, the agency says in the event of a strike, it’s planning to run limited bus service from nine East Bay stations to San Francisco.

In a poll conducted Friday for San Francisco’s KPIX, SurveyUSA found that two-thirds of Bay Area residents say they’re following the BART negotiations. The survey found that overall, 39 percent of respondents feel that BART management has made a better argument during the dispute, compared to 25 percent who think the unions have made a better case. The poll also found that 40 percent of respondents think unions should accept management’s proposals, while 24 percent think BART should settle on the unions’ terms. Here’s a summary of two sides’ most recently reported positions:

  • The unions — chiefly the BART chapter of SEIU Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 — are seeking a pay increase of about 12 percent over three years. That compares to their opening position of 23 percent over four years. BART has offered 10 percent over four years.
  • The unions have proposed additional small pay increases if BART ridership increases faster than the agency forecasts.
  • On pensions, BART has sought to get the unions to agree to begin pension contributions at 1 percent of salary a year escalating to 4 percent by the last year of a four-year contract. Last week, the two agreed to a “cost-neutral swap” under which BART would pay workers 72 cents for every dollar the workers put into their pension funds. It’s still unclear how the pension contributions and swap payments will figure into an overall settlement.
  • The unions say they’ll agree to a 15 percent increase in health-care contributions for all BART workers. Currently, union members pay $92 a month for medical coverage, even if family members are included. BART has proposed continuing flat-rate payments for individual members and limiting payments for family coverage to the least expensive of either a Kaiser or Blue Shield plan.

For more on the negotiations, reporter Mina Kim spoke with Paul Roose, a mediator based in Oakland who oversaw BART negotiations in 2009.

  • Samantha

    I have no sympathy for BART workers–selfish and greedy union and employees. I hope BART officials hold their ground. There are PLENTY of other people who would be more than satisfied with the wages and benefits that currently exist–which is pretty darn good.

    • Jack

      agree!

    • Unknown

      Personally, I think governor brown needs to tell all the people in California let’s strike them and use alternate means. They need us to raise the fairs.

      • tkindred

        I think Brown and other government officials received a lot of cash from the unions so their not going to do anything.

      • saucetin

        FARES

    • Judy Carleton

      Simple minded Samantha….propaganda is just propaganda. You drank the Kool-Aid and parrot what the biased mainstream media puts out there. Do some fact checking via alternative sources and you might realize that you should support the idea that all workers should earn good wages and benefits. Standing up to ‘austerity’ b.s. is the only thing workers can do (withholding labor) so we don’t all ‘race to the bottom’.

      • bob

        It’s not propaganda, simple-minded Judy. I think everyone supports the ‘idea that all workers should earn good wages and benefits’ — however, the majority of us ask for a raise, and if we don’t receive said raise, we either deal with it and work harder to earn that raise, or we look for employment elsewhere. I can’t strike on my job. Why should they?

        • why_not_now

          Why do you want us all to be dragged down to Wal-Mart employees?

          We pay for their food stamps!

          We pay for their section 8 housing!

          google it!

        • Charles White

          Bob did you and your fellow employees give up $100 million in concessions during the height of the recession? Then they turn around and go oops we made an accounting error. We ‘found’
          $400 million in a drawer we forgot to look in. Also due to the 4 year hiring freeze we did work harder to fill the vacancies left by retired or promoted personal. Then Bart makes us the villains for stepping up to do the overtime. Ridership also increased over the last for years. Bart fare will go up regardless just like they have in the past four years.
          Here’s a though why doesn’t management ever go on strike?
          Because no one would ever notice they were gone.

    • ER

      gopetition.com/petitions/ban-bart-strikes.html

  • Samantha

    I think Bart union and employees are walking on thin ice and should be thankful for what they have right now-a good paying job. If unions get what they want = higher fares = less riders = eventual layoffs. They are risking a good thing out of greed with a lot to lose ….personally, if fares go up, I’m done with riding BART–it’s already at the point where it’s not worth it anymore (it used to be)…and there 1000s of others in Bay Area who feel the same…you can have your stinky, expensive train–won’t be hardly anyone on it–but ok, you win.

    • Judy Carleton

      Again, Samantha you are correct to say Union workers are walking on thin ice by ‘standing up’ to this agenda of ‘economic sustainability’ created and backed by businesses/corporations that BART District is in bed with.

      Workers are risking their livelihoods for the benefit for all workers, believe it or not. During a strike, Workers are not paid while BART District executives and mgrs. continue to collect their bloated salaries doing what?

      “BART fares will double if Workers received raises” is more misleading information put out by the District and backed by mainstream media (who are also members of Bay Area Council).

      Fare increases were already approved by BART’s Board of Directors through 2020 regardless if Workers got a raise or not. Google it for fact checking.

      Reality is the BART District wants Workers and Riders to subsidize their proposed massive expansion. Bay Area Council members will be the main recipient of millions of dollars from these expansions. The BART executives will be handsomely rewarded with money and political favors if they can generate all this revenue to their business partners.

      Funny thing, BART is a public agency whose priority should be to the public/taxpayers, not big business. So who are the GREEDY ones?

      Please boycott BART! Then Audit BART! Truth will unfold eventually.

  • Janet

    I am not a BART employee and I think that we all stand to benefit when the BART workers get the best possible terms of pay and benefits. They gave ground in the past. And now it is time they get it back. Have you checked lately how unbalanced the average worker’s pay and benefits are in relation to the gains to the wealthiest 1%? See the movie “Inequality for All”. BART workers are not Fat Cats. Most of us are losing out in the current USA economic structure. Support the BART workers. They are showing guts and standing up for a reasonable package of earnings and benefits.

    • Kent London

      Janet, we don’t stand to benefit when “the BART workers get the best possible terms of pay and benefits”. Their high pay is our high fare. They already is #1 paid in the entire California transit sector, depite the skill gap. BART worker are not Fat Cat, but they are grossly overpaid already. I don’t know your educations and skill level, but $135,000 a year average wage, overtime, benefits for jobs requiring only GED do not do justice at all to other 99% of people, don’t you think? Don’t get fooled by the simplistic union talking points.

      • Unknown

        Totally agree with you. It’s coming out of our pockets. They are the highest paid people.

        • why_not_now

          What is coming out of your pocket is paying for minimum wage workers from Walmat and fast food companies to get food stamps and section 8 housing!

          Think about it!

      • Charles White

        Wow Kent, you have definitely been smoking what Bart management has been selling the public. In fact your statement sounds so much like the propaganda that
        Management has been spreading that I have doubts that you are a real person and not made up to spread more B.S. 
        First of all there is no way in hell that a Train Operator or Station Agent can make $150,000 a year without working 10 or 12 hour days, seven days a week for months on end, including holidays. The very few that made that kind of money spent more time at work than at home with their families. Furthermore what’s that “($135,000 a year average wage and benefits)” crap? Nobody but Bart management combines wages and benefits into one number like that. They know that most people will just
        Look at the dollar amount and assume that is actual pay. You also must be averaging in Bart management and CEO salary to get that number. My pay in 2012 was $30.22 per hour. That is $1208.80 a week and $62,857.60 a year. Do the math.
        How much of that fictitious $135,000 is actual wages and how much is benefits? 
        Mr London you sure have a lot of time to post erroneous information to the public by repeating the lies and misinformation from management. Now that I’ve read some of your previous post I’m convinced that you are Bart director or one of Thomas Hock’s cronies: Busted

        • Mark

          You make $30.22 an hour and are upset WHY? That a good wage. If you can’t live on that wage then you are living outside your means and maybe need a money management class. I make that have not seen a wage increase in over 3 years and pay way more for my medical benifits and more into my retirement. yet still have money to pay my mortgage. take my kids to theplaces they want to go and have the toys i want. Sorry you all feel entitled to more than everyone else. Anything bart employees gain from this will not benifit the riders or the bay area at all. Riders fares will go up or More bart employees will price themselves out of a job. Muni striked years ago for more pay they got it. Lots of employees lost the job they had shortly after. The gains of the employees will be offset by the few or the many riders.

    • Gloria

      No, they are screwing with the many commuters who help pay for their wages by not doing their jobs. I don’t get paid $30/hr or great benefits like them and I’m going to have a hard time getting to work if they strike just to fill their pockets with more cash. In previous negotiations, they’ve only talked about money and nothing safety related. Them going on strike is abuse of power. Other unions don’t or can’t go on strike and they still are able to negotiate with their employers for better wages. Bart employees or anyone should have this power.

      • why_not_now

        Meanwhile, you subsidize minimum wage workers with food stamps, section 8 housing, etc.

        Wake up!

        Pay a living wage and benefits!

        Bring us all up to BART employee standards!

  • Ana Sala

    I have no sympathy for the Bart employees or their union representatives. The Bart stations are always filthy, the escalators are always needing some kind of repair and last week the over head announcement on my train indicated that there were 5 different elevators at different stations out of service…….not very good for being wheel chair or handicapped accessible, but by all means lets give the Bart employees their increase and of course the union reps benefit also. They should privatize Bart and eliminate all this entitled mentality.

    • josh

      i agree with you on everything except privatizing bart. it would make bart fairs skyrocket. the government is taking a loss in order to make bart a cheaper, convenient, and environmentally friendly. if privatized, fairs will increase and less people will take it.

    • Judy Carleton

      I agree with you about the filthy stations, trains and poor state of escalators and elevators. BART’s shell game of transferring Operating funds to Capital funds supports the corporations and businesses and not the riders and workers. Upkeep of the current core system is not the priority. This agenda has been decided by the BART District and approved by the elected Board of Directors. Workers have been made the scapegoat under the guise of ‘Economic Sustainability” for the Bay Area. Who really benefits from this shell game is not the workers, riding public or taxpayers.

      A business lobbying group, Bay Area Council, promote no support for BART workers. Look at the membership list! BAC’s members take millions of $ in BART contracts yearly. Members of the BAC have financial interests in cutting BART employee pay in order to free up revenue for costly system expansions rather than maintain the current core system. BART expansions that members hope to underwrite, build, and profit from future BART contracts. BART’s General Mgr. Crunican is on the Board of the Bay Area Council.

      The elected BART Board of Directors has the power to avert this strike if they refocused on their due diligence to the ridership/taxpayers and stop playing politics.

    • why_not_now

      Bring us all up to BART standards!

      Why must we suffer for corporate america?

      You do know you pay taxes for Walmart, fast food employees to get food stamps, section 8 housing due to low pay, right?

    • ER

      Ban Bart strikes sign the petition! gopetition.com/petitions/ban-bart-strikes.html

  • Judas

    Google has a car which has driven 300,000 miles without an accident. You are telling me we cant get a train that can drive itself? Seriously BART. Call me. I’ll happily come onboard as the chief operations executive, and in a year you’ll have an automated, renovated and updated fleet of trains driving itself. Pass the cost savings on to riders.

    You’ll have higher profits, higher profit share to existing employees and higher rider counts. Oh, did I mention you’ll have no Union?

    • Bayfaced

      OK. GET ON HARVARD JUSTICE WEBSITE. TAKE THE COURSE THAT’S THERE BECAUSE YOU SIR ARE A FOOL. The BART is is not a means to an ends of profit- the BART as a service is an ends in itself. That’s why without it we lose 73 Million. That’s the point as society we all agreed upon. We need the BART. Not as a means to make money- but because we need a train.

      • hfnewo

        I am saying this, many people need the BART as a transportation as an everyday life vehicle to reach destinations they are unable to reach.I know that the BART are probably fighting for a good reason, but it would interrupt everyday life for the people of the United States of America. And most people can’t drive or they live very far from where they work or a transportation need to get from and to school. Many people take the BART for transportation. To and from there destinations

  • Kent London

    The unions already are grossly overpaid. When BART points out union workers’ average pay/benefits is $135,000, unions say they include management. It can’t be. Go to Mercury News and search for Bay area salary. You’ll see BART employees title, base pay, overtime, others, and total. For example, you’ll see on page 8, De
    Lisle, James — Train Operator……………………………$193,407 pay in 2012, which includes $63,162 base, $77,858 overtime. They can call in sick then show up to work as overtime.

    • Charles White

      Ok Mr.London or whoever you are, some real numbers. First of all no one gets overtime unless there’s a need. Bart created this situation by not hiring to fill
      vacancies from retired or promoted employees. When the system is down
      20 Train Operator or 5 foreworkers someone has to do the overtime or the trains don’t move. Bart was happy to pay it because it is cheaper to pay the overtime than it is to hire and train and provide benefits for a new employee. Are you saying these workers should not paid for their time. Those people probably put in over 1000 hours of overtime or more. Do you ( Mr. FakeBlogger working for management spreading propaganda) ,do you have any idea what it is like to work a 10 or 12 hour day for six months strait without a day off? Do you have a clue of what sacrifices it takes to put in those kind of hours? My guess is no, but then you parade their names and earnings around like they stole the money. You should be ashamed of yourself.
      No I do not believe my “golden benefits” cost Bart $40,000 a year. A family of four can get Kaiser coverage for about $1000 a month, with the dental plan. Group rate prices should even be cheaper. That’s maybe 12k plus the 7.65% to the 401k instead of social security does not even come close to 40k not even half. So until
      you show official documentation showing a breakdown of benefit cost it’s just more numbers pulled out of your @$$
      The 92$ copay I realize is much less than some people pay. Even at the previously negotiated 3% yearly increase it would still be less than most copay. We gave thematic $100 million concession four years ago only for them to turn around and say ‘oh look we just found we had a few hundred million surplus’ after the ink is dry.
      We don’t have COLA or annual cost of living increases and 8 year of 2.5% inflation without a pay increase means your pay check buys you 20% less than it did eight years ago. We are fighting to for a fair wage increase without take always. Not something that looks like a raise (cost of living increase ) on the surface but drastically increases medical copay and make us pay for pension. I understand that most working people have already had their benefit package raped and pillaged by their employer over the last 30 plus years. So I understand also that many have forgotten that unions improved working standards for all workers not just those in unions. Until 1978 100% paid medical and pension were the norm . Do you realize that from 1980 until now corporate profits have gone up by 80% while household incomes only 10%, and CEO salaries up by over 600%. Who stole the American dream? :http://youtu.be/4J5WReyQlT0

    • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

      Spreading lies again kent? You spread nothing but misinformation everywhere you post. What’s wrong with you? Did you see the first two employees? Dugger and Grace. Nothing said about them? And you still have a union member as your avatar. You really are conflicted? I don’t think mr Donahue would appreciate you bashing unions as he is part if one and a transit one at that. Why do you hate bart workers? Just wondering what you do for a living. I have asked you multiple times yet you remain quiet. You are a snake

    • disqus_fFOP7kjAQO

      So how does 60,000 and 70,000 equal 193,000. You need a math class. You have failed to mention it is total cost of compensation. That is not a real number. It’s what bart is valuing them at. So why would they value them high. Another exams if crowd mentality running the show . Your not very well informed.

  • Bienvenido David

    Janet you may have relative working there. Are you dreaming? What unbalanced pay are you referring? Do you mean they receive too much? Your idea is out of touch with reality where most of us honest and perseverant workers may not even receive in our lifetime the salaries they are receiving. Wake up Janet.

    • why_not_now

      Bring us all up to BART standards!

      Why must we subsidize Walmart and fast food employees with food stamps, Section 8 housing, etc?

      You know you are paying for it, right?

  • Adrian

    BART employees are paid more than big firm lawyers, who have gone through 4 years of college and 3 years of law school at around $300k in education debt, and work 16-18 hour days. What is going on here? Be happy you’re paid more than a living wage to push a lever. The attitude of entitlement doesn’t ever ask where this money is coming from, only what you think you deserve irrespective of anyone else or reality.

    • Charles White

      Really, lawyers make $30.22 per hour too. Then yes they should have skipped law school.

    • why_not_now

      Entitlement, corporate america taking what they want and taking from workers!

  • Charles White

    I agree with you about the plight of today’s working and middle class. Let’s remember that unions were the reason we had a middle class in the first place. The unions helped more non union workers than union workers by setting a standard of in pay and benefits. Of course that was 30 years ago. What happened? Well that’s the topic of Hedrick Smith’s book ‘Who stole the American Dream’,http://youtu.be/4J5WReyQlT0
    The best way to help those that make minimum wage is to support them in there efforts to improve their working situation and support unions. There is a reason why economist are saying we are experiencing the greatest disparity between the rich and the poor since the 1920’s, that’s because working conditions are slowly returning to the pre-union days of the 1920’s

    • balb

      Reading all of your contributions, Mr. White, I think it’s safe to assume you’re a union member – yes?

      • why_not_now

        It is safe to say that you want corporate america to use you.

      • Charles White

        Yes I’m ATU. Unions have their flaws but I think we have forgotten what unions have done for them like raise working condition standards and create the middle class…
        Are we really overpaid for the Bay Area or are far too many people under paid for the Bay Area? Let talk about the real problem and how to fix it.

        • tkindred

          Yes, BART workers are overpaid. And the real problem is that someone has to pay for the over inflated wages and their union dues. Guess who that would be????? The middle and lower class workers who depend on the BART to get to work.

  • Charles White

    Bart stations are filthy because since 911 they closed toilets and removed garbage cans in underground stations. Management used that as an excuse to get rid of a few jobs too. No wonder people pee on the trains. We don’t feel entitled at all. We are fighting to keep the American Dream alive. Pretty soon we will be paying them for the privilege to work there (with no medical and no benefits). We need more unions not less and the working masses need to stop playing Candy Crush and streaming Breaking Bad long enough to pay attention to what has happened to the politics and the flow of money. http://youtu.be/4J5WReyQlT0

    • Kenny

      Union Worker here and all i see unions do today is line the pockets of the union leaders and protect the lazy SOB that should of been fired. The SEIU union which my wife is in is one of the worst unions around. They always state we use Strike as a last resort and everyone time i turn on the TV they are the first union i see on a picket line. Sorry unions of the past served a purpose and did a lot of good. Today’s unions are just as corrupt as the goverenment and no better. You are fooling yourself if you believe that the union is looking out for your best interest. what a union see’s with you getting more wages is huigher dues paid to them. Also BART stations have been filthy and disgusting long before 9/11.

      • why_not_now

        Why do we not bring us all up to the level of union workers?

        Why must workers subsidize the one percent?

  • Judy Carleton

    BART is shameful with their filthy stations, trains and poor state of escalators and elevators. 2009, Workers made 100 million in concessions for the District who cried poor only to find 125 million less than a month later. That ploy got overplayed, so this time for 2013 contract talks, it’s about ‘economic sustainability’. This attack has been funded by taxpayers monies – BART’s treasure chest. This was all approved by BART’s Board of Directors to fire GM Dugger at a great cost, bring in outsiders GM Crunican w/sweet heart deal (2yrs vesting for life) and hire Negotiator Hock $399,000 to hold operating cost down on the backs of the workers and riders.

    BART’s shell game of transferring Operating funds to Capital funds supports the corporations and businesses and not the riders and workers. Upkeep of the current core system has not been the priority of the BART District. Workers have been made the scapegoat under the guise of ‘Economic Sustainability” for the Bay Area

    A business lobbying group, Bay Area Council, promote no support for BART workers. Look at the membership list! BAC’s members take millions of $ in BART contracts yearly. Members of the BAC have financial interests in cutting BART employee pay in order to free up revenue for costly system expansions rather than maintain the current core system. BART expansions that members hope to underwrite, build, and profit from future BART contracts. BART’s General Mgr. Crunican is on the Board of the Bay Area Council.

    The elected BART Board of Directors has the power to avert this strike if they refocused on their due diligence to the ridership/taxpayers and stop playing politics.

  • Kevin

    This is classic bad-faith bargaining that Thomas Hock has a history of. There was no “miscommunication”, Hock and BART teased the unions with a fake compromise, only to withdraw it to disorient the union.

  • Frustrated Rider

    BART workers you should be ashamed with someone like me who has a 4 year degree and cant find work anywhere close to what you are making, I would gladly take any of your jobs this minute! Get it while you can, the public will vote a strike like this illegal in the future – no more holding anyone hostage

    • Innocent Bystander

      A 4 year degree does not entitle the holder to a high standard of living. Rather then complain about your financial situation, maybe your time would be better spent taking the initiative to improve your personal employment network and apply for a job at BART or somewhere that pays better.

      • tkindred

        Being a BART employer does not entitle you to being paid as much as those with people having degrees that command such.

        • saucetin

          unscramble that sentence.

          • tkindred

            Just cause you are a BART employee does not make you entitled to a salary as someone who has busted their rear, invested long hard hours, years of their lives and money in obtaining a degree. Believe it our not, there are some professions that are very difficult to perform without having a college degree, engineering, medicine for example. These fields happen to be the ones that pay the most. The amount of mental intensity required to perform the job is much greater than say, driving a BART train. Therefore employers have been sensible and compensated those working in those fields with higher salaries. Also, I would guess there are magnitudes more people qualified to work as a BART attendant or train driver than say a structural engineer, physician, etc. The original comment was the flip side of what “Innocent Bystander” had stated.

    • why_not_now

      Four degree in what?

  • Rayca

    Stay strong BART. I’m sure the unions are “confused” because of lack of education and an under-appreciation for how good they’ve got it. I hope Hock’s agenda is partly about busting the unions, as he did in MA. Be strong, BART. I’ll hang in there for another strike just to get new laws that OUTLAW striking in such an incomprehensible manner. It’s not just commuters and the companies they work for. What about hospitals, truck drivers, all the folks that are messed up that don’t have anything to do with BART. The entire Bay Area is at ground zero because of this. Stay Strong! Don’t Give In To Union’s High Demands!!!

  • Daniel

    Bart or the union does care about the people it will hurt

    • why_not_now

      Prove it!

  • Scott

    I am sick of hearing the union president say that BART is holding the public hostage. Make NO MISTAKE Antoinnette, it is YOU AND YOUR WORKERS trying to hold us hostage. You aren’t fooling anyone!

  • Miss-management Stop Here

    This is the reason why we do not have Bart to Antioch! Who else has gotten a %10 raise? Who else only pays $92 a month for health insurance? Who else can retire from their job at Bart and then get rehired as a consultant at more money than they were paid by Bart to begin with? Where is our Bart money for East county? It is in the benefits of all Bart employees.

  • Keith

    BART Employees,

    Why not just give the 72-hour notice to strike and win the people’s
    vote? People right now are trying to stay up to date, not caring about
    lengthy articles spewing out content that we already know, just wanting
    to know a simple answer; are they going to strike?

    Oh it’s the union telling you to strike? Stop being sheep and control your
    union, give the 72-hour notice. Your lack of compassion to your clients
    is insulting and shows what kind of employees you are. You want more
    pay, but you don’t show any reason to deserve it. You worked 4 years
    without a raise!?!? Oh dear, I know employees that have gotten 6 or 7
    raises in that time, yet still make half the amount you do.

    I hope you all get fired and replaced by competent people, who deserve that job.

    I don’t even commute on Fridays,
    Keith

    • why_not_now

      How nice of you to pay for Walmart employees to get food stamps due to not a living wage!

  • why_not_now

    Why must we lower ourselves to corporate AMERICA?

    Let’s bring us all up to BART standards and not settle for the lowest common denominator!

    We subsidize Walmart, fast food employees, etc.via food stamps, section 8 housing and we think this is right.

    No.

    Stop.

  • why_not_now

    TARP, 750 BILLION!

    Nuff said!

  • tkindred

    The union is a parasite. How can we start a petition to break the union? I would bet there are plenty of qualified people who would jump a a chance at those BART jobs at half the pay! And they would gladly do it and appreciate having the work.

  • Joe MP

    BART workers have the best deal going for the skills required. KCBS political commentator stated today that BART train operators earn about the same as commuter pilots and commuter pilots have a much higher skill set and not as robust of a benefits package. How in the world has a pension that does not require worker contribution (or even a pension) and a flat $96 per month health care premium for a family of 1 or 10. No wonder why BART receives over 20,000 applications a year for about 120 openings. I think BART employees need to stop whining and be glad they have the wages they have for only a high school level education.

  • tkindred

    Why haven’t they thought of extending light rail (MUNI) from downtown SF to downtown Oakland? Just one line would do it. Then we wouldn’t have to depend on the BART so much. Crossing the Bay is the only problem. Let me guess, Unions lobby against ideas like that.

    • tkindred

      What ever happened to this? ALTERNATIVE A – BAY BRIDGE LIGHT RAIL

      http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/bay_bridge/rail_study/chap2.htm

      • Dan Brekke

        I hadn’t heard of this idea before. Kind of cool. And expensive. And dependent on getting lots more people to get out of their cars. Maybe some day we’ll do that.

    • Dan Brekke

      They did think of that, and built it on the lower deck 75 years ago. It was Oakland-based. Then they dismantled it in the late 1950s and replaced it with AC Transit. That is a local chapter in the larger national story of large automotive and oil companies and other corporate interests buying municipal railway operations across the country and replacing them with less efficient bus systems.

  • tkindred

    Don’t know if I can post this. If not they can take it down. You can sign a petition for no BART strikes or future strikes on transit systems in the Bay Area.

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-bart-strikes.html

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor