BART strife: Bay Area liberals mugged by union reality

BART strife: Bay Area liberals mugged by union reality

zzsf-bart-strikeThe old joke about many conservatives being liberals who were mugged by reality has a lot of heft to it. The older one gets, the more taxes one pays and the more one figures out that liberalism in California is primarily about protecting the interests of public employees, trial lawyers and green activists — not the “social justice” issues that defined the liberalism of the 1960s.

Of course, some areas are more resistant to this kind of epiphany than others. But now California's most liberal region is the middle of being mugged by today's political realities, and the result could be a whole lot more people in the Bay Area figuring out that union power translates into legal looting — at least if you don't fight back.

This is from a sharp Contra Costa Times editorial saying enough is enough, bring on a BART strike if the greedmongers demand more:

“The BART board already offered more than it should have. It can't go further while meeting its responsibilities to keep sufficient numbers of trains running reliably. As it is, more tax increases are planned.

“For their part, BART workers, who already receive great compensation, haven't budged. They continue to perseverate about side issues while maintaining absurd salary and benefit demands. Union leaders have ratcheted up expectations to such unrealistic levels that workers don't appreciate the sweet offer already on the table.

“Train operators, for example, already place among the top-paid in the nation. Employees contribute nothing toward their generous pensions. And health insurance costs most of them just $92 a month, no matter how many dependents they have.

“BART is offering a 10 percent wage increase over four years, while asking that workers contribute only minimally to their pensions and allowing them to keep the $92 health care deal. Yet, that's not enough for the unions.”

When chaos hits, know whom to blame

no.bullyAnd if a strike does happen, and chaos ensues, the Contra Costa Times says be prepared — and don't blame transit officials. Blame the union bullies.

“So, start making plans to carpool or, if possible, work from home. Plan to travel outside commute hours. Stock up on household supplies to avoid unnecessary trips. Schedule virtual conferences rather than meeting in person.

“Finally, resist the temptation to blame BART directors. For your sake, they can't give anymore. Caving to absurd labor demands will only buy short-term peace at the expense of long-term financial insolvency.

“It would be great if there were an easy way out. There isn't. …

“It's the BART directors' responsibility to balance labor costs against billions of dollars of unmet capital needs. For too long, they have let politics trump financial reality. That must end, even if it means enduring a strike.”

In other words, don't give in — and don't believe the claims that it's BART management that's greedy, not the rank-and-file.

A groaner of an editorial

The contrast between the Contra Costa Times' clear-eyed view of the labor strife and the San Francisco Chronicle's judgment-free editorial is striking. The Chronicle implies everyone's to blame — and cites “BART's notoriously bad relations with its unions.”

Groan. Oh, yeah, they're just so mean to union members. Let's go to the videotape:

“BART employees — including management and nonunion workers — earn an average of about $83,000 annually in gross pay, contribute nothing toward their retirement and $92 monthly to health insurance. Their pay and total compensation are both the highest in the Bay Area among transit agencies.

“BART has offered an 8 percent pay hike over four years and wants workers to pay more toward their medical and pension benefits. The local Service Employees International Union and Amalgamated Transit Union, which represent more than 2,300 train operators, maintenance employees and other blue-collar workers, are looking for a 23 percent pay bump and are willing to contribute more toward benefits, just not as much as management wants.”

That's from the San Jose Mercury-News. The Chronicle didn't think mentioning current BART pay was relevant. Somehow I think that subscribers who use BART would consider it extremely relevant.


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