Today veteran journalist Mark Kreidler begins a new weekly column covering the coronavirus and its social impacts.
Co-published by Fast Company
On Friday, BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] employees at SEIU and ATU will likely ratify the deal negotiated last week and the following day BART’s Board of Directors will likely vote to approve it. Apart from a few crazies on both the left and right who were hoping that the strike or the dispute kept going, most of us BART riders will be extremely glad that it is finally over and hoping that we never have to go through this again. It’s not surprising, therefore, that some politicians have attempted to exploit public frustration. Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, who is running for the California Assembly, has tirelessly promoted his campaign for change in state law to ban strikes by BART workers. It’s an easy time to call for coercive legislation but a strike ban is the wrong solution for the Bay Area and it wouldn’t work.
Are BART Workers Strike–
A tentative agreement between striking Bay Area Rapid Transit workers and BART management has ended the employees’ four-day strike. The new contract must be approved and ratified by members of SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, the rail system’s two largest unions.
Last night, in a statement released by Local 1021, John Arantes, BART Chapter President of that local announced:
“Tonight the hard working men and women who keep the Bay Area moving, can go back to work making BART the most efficient and successful system in the country.”
Added Des Patten, President of SEIU 1021’s BART Professional Chapter:
“Let us be clear that our commitment to improving the safety at BART doesn’t end with these negotiations. With this agreement, we expect that General Manager Grace Crunican will continue the dialogue with its unions on working conditions and health and safety at BART.”
According to SFGate,
With all the misinformation swirling about on the BART strike, there are a few things to clear up.
Here are the three things you need to know about the BART strike (h/t to Pete Castelli of SEIU 1021):
1) The strike is NOT about wages or benefits. BART workers made concession after concession on the economic proposals with the goal of averting a strike. BART workers and management agreed to a deal yesterday on wages, health care and pensions.
2) BART management pulled the rug out from under workers at the last minute by insisting on new workplace rules that infringed on the rights of workers.
Whether BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] closes down this week will come down to one issue and one issue only: whether the BART Board of Directors shows leadership or continues to act to hold Bay Area transit riders hostage by using the same playbook a small minority of elected officials in Washington, D.C. have used to close down our federal government.
No one in the Bay Area—whether they ride BART or not—wants to see a BART strike. This is especially true of BART workers, who live in one of the most expensive regions in the world and do not receive a paycheck while they are on strike.
To demonstrate their commitment to reaching a deal before a cooling-off period expires tonight, BART workers have put a proposal on the table that is fair and affordable and incentivizes BART workers to keep the system one of the nation’s best.
BART’s 60-day cooling off period is now heating up – but not in a good way.
When the Governor requested a 60-day cooling off period in Bay Area Rapid Transit negotiations in early August, there was a danger that this action would lessen pressure to reach an agreement. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened. In support of the cooling off period, BART management had told the Governor back in August that this would enable “us to continue negotiating…. The public should not be deprived of this essential public service unless all alternatives to avoid a work stoppage have been utilized.”
This sounds like common sense: Give the parties more time to avoid a crippling strike that surely no one on either side wants. But no sooner had the 60 days started than management reconsidered its position on utilizing “all alternatives” to avoid a strike. Instead of bargaining around the clock,
Negotiating a fair contract is a complex process that involves hard work and commitment from both labor and management. When both sides bargain in good faith and share a goal of securing a deal, a deal eventually gets done. I’ve personally been involved in many tough negotiations that ended with a fair deal that both parties could live with. It takes patience and willingness from both sides to compromise.
In the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] negotiations, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. BART management paid Thomas Hock, an out-of-state lawyer with a history of driving disputes to a strike, nearly $400,000 to lead negotiations. Hock and his company have been responsible for seven strikes, 47 unfair labor practice charges and nine discrimination lawsuits. Not exactly a history of committing to compromise in order to secure a deal.
True to form, Hock hasn’t been serious about negotiating a resolution at BART that would spare the Bay Area a strike.
Fruitvale Station will not make many people’s lists as the feelgood film of the summer – it’s a semi-fictional account of the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, the troubled young black man who was mortally wounded by a transit police officer on an Oakland BART platform in 2009. Director Ryan Coogler’s debut movie opens with actual grainy cell phone footage, taken by bystanders, of the chaotic moments leading to Grant’s shooting after a melee had erupted on a train full of New Year’s Eve revelers.
Yet the story remains a powerfully optimistic work that shows Grant (Michael B. Jordan), in his last day alive, coming to terms with his criminal past as a small-time drug dealer. We watch as he tries to move his life in a new direction and become a better husband and father. And, despite Grant’s recurring moments of explosive personal confrontations, Coogler’s film knows when to pull back and take a restrained,
I’ve seen some pretty outrageous anti-worker opinion pieces written about the contract negotiations at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) over the last two months. But nothing I’ve read is as infuriating as a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed from Chuck and Barbara McFadden.
In short, the McFaddens assert that workers like those at BART are not deserving of the middle-class wage their unions negotiate. To make their point, they use an argument that’s all too common today — private sector workers are suffering so public sector workers should too. What’s so absurd about this logic is that the very reason so many private sector workers are struggling is because most don’t have the ability to bargain with their employer for a decent wage in return for a hard day’s work.
Workers should be able to negotiate with their employers over wages and benefits like health care and retirement security.
How did the BART dispute ever reach this point?
For several weeks now, BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] management has mounted a sophisticated PR campaign, stating that its workers are overpaid and unreasonable. But its evidence on employee pay and benefits has been misleading at best; its estimates of average pay include many highly paid managers, thus exaggerating significantly the pay of frontline employees. Likewise, management’s statements on employee contributions to health benefits have failed to account for the significant out-of-pocket expenses incurred by many BART employees.
Denigrating your workers in the media may be a winning strategy in the battle for public opinion, but it’s a foolhardy one for senior management running an organization whose success depends so heavily on employee commitment and flexibility.
This week’s public hearing in Oakland before Governor Brown’s three-member investigative panel provided an entirely different version of events from BART’s media campaign.