1- It is about our Safety.
On July 2, 2013, The Nation reported that in just five stations more than 2,400 crimes serious enough to be reported to the FBI have occurred in just 5 stations in the last 3 years. BART employees want more safety provisions such as more lighting to protect all of us.
Since 2009, BART employee injuries have risen 43 percent. Meanwhile assaults on station agents went up 31 percent last year. These attacks include rape and homicide. After 30 years the trains and tracks are showing significant wear. BART employees want more money spent on maintenance and safety upgrades so we are all safe and the trains can keep running.
Yet BART refuses to even discuss the issue of safety for workers and riders in negotiations.
2. The money is there.
On July 19th, The Huffington Post pointed out that Dorothy Dugger, a top management official, earned more than $330,000 last year, even though she didn’t work a single day due to management’s fabulous benefits package.
After a public outcry she resigned in May 2011 and stayed on the payroll for another 19 months. That represents two years of drawing an exorbitant salary while doing nothing. When she left BART’s payroll in December, she began to draw an annual pension of $181,000 and medical care for life.. Other management officials receive similar perks. Now these same people want to blame BART workers for all its problems. If this money were used as BART employees wished it were, fares could drop, safety could increase, and employees could be kept out of poverty upon retirement.
The Nation also points out in quoting a BART Union Representative BART “does” not have a “deficit,” as the Board says. BART faces a massive budget surplus of more than $1.2 billion over the next 10 years. I’ve worked for BART for 22 years. My salary is $63,000 a year. If I were to retire today, I would get a pension of $2,100 a month—and we don’t get Social Security, just our pensions”
Unless you are a manager like Dorothy Dugger who has a pension of $181,000 a year, the average BART employee will be resigned to living on $2,200 dollars a month upon retirement, that is only $200 a month more than the Federal poverty level. The San Francisco Examiner caught management lying again when they claimed BART workers make $71.000 a year, the actual amount is $62,000, while a family of four in San Francisco needs $74,341.00 just to get by
BART Union President Antonette Bryant points out:
“Today, revenues at BART are up. Ridership is at record levels. Trains are running at better than 95 percent on-time. Previously BART itself was forecasting an annual operating surplus of $125 million per year for the next 10 years. But because this is a contract negotiations year with its union workers, BART’s politicians once again have projected an overall budget deficit of $10 billion over 25 years that workers and riders are supposed to resolve.” That means higher fares and lower safety standards.
Yes, Bart Workers don’t want to live in poverty, yes, BART workers want to be safe, and yes, BART workers want you to get to work on time, but unless management budges on these issues, I don’t see how a strike can be avoided. BART employees simply cannot be squeezed any further.
About the Author
Howard Cook is a contractor, a regular old person like everyone else who rides BART and will need to drive to work in bumper traffic if there is another strike, and wants the average person to understand what is really going on here.