Reasons to Support the #BARTstrike

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(Photo by: Kevin Sharp – CC BY-NC 2.0)

Most importantly: Unions of the 1950s are the reason you are not forced to work more than five days per week, 9 hours per day.

But wait, there’s more!
You wouldn’t want people to:
  • tell you that you don’t deserve to earn a living wage and safe working conditions.

The living wage for a family of four in the Bay Area: $74,341

The wage for a BART system services worker with two children, after five years on the job: $52,000

And don’t forget about the health and safety concerns, such as additional lighting in tunnels and bullet-proof glass to protect against violent crimes, of which there were 2400 in BART stations in the past 3 years.

Minimum wage vs. living wage| San Fracisco Business Times

Fact Sheet | Keep BART Running

  • ridicule what you do professionally.

Overheard at CIIS: “I’ll go down and take their jobs! All they do is push buttons all day.”

Any job can be denigrated – yes, even yours. BART workers perform a variety of important, and often undervalued, jobs as mechanics, electricians, and, bless them, station cleaners.

BART Workers | Keep BART Running

  • demand that you work, no matter how you’re treated by your employer.

At the beginning of the recession, BART workers accepted a four-year pay freeze as well as healthcare- and working condition-related concessions.

Currently there is a media gag order, we do know that work rules, including safety provisions, are what caused the current strike. BART workers know best, and deserve, what would make them safer on the job, just like any other person in any other job.

News | Keep BART Running

  • side with your employer, who’s smearing you in the press.

Since March, BART has spent $15,000 per month on PR to cover union negotiations

“Public affairs and crisis communications” spindoctor Sam Singer and his firm covered from April till June.. According to Singer’s website website, “In 1997, he led the corporate reputation team handling Levi Strauss & Company’s largest layoffs and plant closures in its history.” Not to mention he handled spin after the Cosco Busan struck the Bay Bridge, and helped Jack-in-the-Box save face after their E. coli outbreak killed four children in 1993. Since people still eat at Jack-in-the-Box two decades later, obviously the man is “talented.”

In July Singer was replace by Rick Rice, a self-proclaimed “certified curmudgeon” with 35 years experience in crisis management who is not nearly as effusive in “bragging” about his successful spin on the internet. As my soul will fry if I continue reading about these people, you’re welcome to have at it yourself.

BART is Shelling Out $15K a Month on PR for Labor Dispute | SF Weekly

  • enjoy their own raises while opposing yours.

In 2011, the Bay Area rang in at #1 San Jose, #3 East Bay and #4 San Francisco for biggest annual wage and salary increases in large metro areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Lest we forget, as mentioned previously, BART union workers have been under a salary freeze for the last 4 years. Now seems like a very reasonable time for a raise.

Top Cities for a Salary Increase | Yahoo! Finance

  • prioritize their convenience over your quality of life and work.

In October 2012 and April 2013, BART management snuck through board approval for a $399,000 contract for negotiations consultant Thomas Hock, who has a reputation for union busting. “They’re telling us how poor they are and then they go out and spend $400,000 on a consultant,” Leah Berlanga, a spokesperson for SEIU 1021, said. “That’s completely excessive and could be better spent by investing in resources for BART customers.”

Hock has been enjoying $3400 per day in consulting fees, first-class airfare to and from Ohio, a hotel in Union Square, and wine at East Bay restaurants. A further detailed breakdown available here: BART Goes to Ohio to Hire $3400 A DAY Attorney in Strike Negotiations | Stephen Frank’s California

According to union spokespeople in July, the biggest impediment to bargaining a fair contract and avoiding a strike was that very $399,000 negotiator Thomas Hock. Turns out he has been involved in negotiations leading to 7 transit strikes in the past 8 years. Forty-seven complaints have been filed against Hock and his organization since 2001. Not to mention other allegations of allowing and participating in discrimination and racial, ethnic, gender, and disability-based harassment.

With a $399,000 consultant hired to crush the unions, other unions in the area are frightened of the precedent this could set.

$399,000 BART deal angers union groups | SF Examiner

New Research Raises Questions About Why BART Management Chose Thomas Hock to Bargain Its Labor Contracts | SEIU Local 1021

Thomas P. Hock | Transport Workers

Yes, it’s inconvenient. But if you were denied you a living wage and job safety, you’d deserve public support too.

Support the BART unions in their strike.

Special thanks to my friends, family, and colleagues in the CIIS Anthropology and Social Change program for resources and their perspectives.

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