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on Jun 26, 2013
BART union members are already among the highest-paid transit workers in the US. From the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's 2010 report:
"...from 1997 to 2008, the total cost of running the Bay Area's bus, train and ferry systems climbed 52 percent over inflation.
During the same period, however, the number of commuter lines and hours of service increased just 16 percent. Ridership rose a mere 7 percent.
The biggest chunk of the cost increases, according to the report, consists of raises and benefits for the rank and file, many of whom are now among the best-paid transit workers in the country."
The BART union claims public support in their justification for a strike. Think about that - the transit union is telling BART management and the rest of us that we support their going on strike.
Bart workers average $70,000 a year salary, plus averaging $11,000 in overtime, plus $52,000 in benefits, and we are supposed to have sympathy for them! Workers are being asked to contribute something toward their retirement benefits, not an unreasonable request considering many in the private sector don't even have a pension plan. Especially galling to me is that they are complaining that they may be expected to pay on average $92 for their family health coverage. I'm on Medicare and it cost me more than that in monthly premiums. How anybody can support a union totally out of control doesn't make any sense.
(Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff) What kind of society pays ... more than the teachers that are educating their children? I think that all government workers should no longer get pensions, but have 401k plans like the private sector. It is also ridiculous that BART workers pay $92/month for medical care when many workers in the private sector have to pay $1000-$1500/month. It's simply outrageous. I say if they strike, either fire them all or let the strike go on for as long as it takes for them to beg for their jobs back at 2/3 the pay, no pensions, and they pay at least half of their medical care costs. The citizens have got to rise up and take their government back from the bureaucrats, lawyers, and the unions.
BART workers are compensated very well, indeed. But this is also among the costliest places to live in the country. Consider their working conditions, though, especially those who work in station booths. It looks like a pretty cushy job, but consider the relentless abuse these people take, and the responsibilities they accept (who else deals with the derelicts and violent personalities one finds on BART so often?). On the other hand, their health care cost is very generous, and one would suggest the Unions bend a bit on this issue in particular.
The funny thing about arguing that no government workers should get pensions and just have 401(k) plans like the private sector is that the private sector has a history of providing much better pensions and benefits. Those have eroded over time, primarily due to weakening of the unions and concern for gigantic corporate profits.
Instead of demanding that the government workers accept less, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why we're willing to accept less and less and less from private sector employers.
The private sector is a free market, as opposed to a public employee union. Over time the salary/benefits in the private sector become established because workers are free to move from one job to another, and companies are free to offer what they believe are the appropriate salaries for the required skill sets. If my compensation is decreasing, it's because the value I bring to the organization is decreasing, or can be acquired more cheaply somewhere else. I'm free to choose to continue where I am, switch jobs and perhaps increase my salary, etc.
Contrast this with public employee unions, which are in effect closed shops. You can't work for BART unless you're in the union. The only leverage these unions have is the threat to strike and disrupt services.
Private sector workers are making less because unions have been increasingly busted over the past several decades. Workers are therefore unable to exercise much power in relation to corporate owners. The notion that they are free to leave and take another job is so much rubbish. It happens in perhaps 3% of the job force; the remainder are forced to take the job they've managed to secure. The idea that there is workers freedom in this is ridiculous.
Rather than castigating public workers for the progress they've made as union organized, private workers should be looking to them as examples of what united action can achieve.
Enjoy paying your needlessly high BART fares while riding on equipment that is the oldest in the country and wanting for maintenance because too much of the budget goes for over-the-top BART employee compensation. Get ready to reamed still more.
Although Tom is certainly entitled to his opinion I wonder where and by who he is quoting the 3%. I'm not aware of any job where one is "forced" to stay on a particular job. Unions have only resulted in a general lack of pride, a feeling of "entitlement" just "because", all at the same time with absolutely no responsibility for anything. My opinion only, based upon many, many years dealing with unions. Non unionized workers are paid on the basis of their contribution and perceived value to the organization. In this relationship, either party can choose to separate and work elsewhere. Again, no where do I see where any worker is "forced" to work in a particular job. To demand increased wages, continued free or minimal contribution for benefits, while at the same time contributing absolutely nothing in return to improve the BART system is ludicrous
Unrealistic, excessive people cost suck up everything, leaving nothing for safety infrastructure. Just like the state of CA, with much to generous social services 'people costs' to many who COULD provide for themselves, and for blatent robbing of taxpayers for greedy public unions....instead of roads and infrastructure like lesser bridges, delta, etc. Too many and too greedy 'people' leave nothing for services that taxpayers pay for and are entitled to.
The BART was allowed to be union, it's public 'service' role was trashed. The public is held hostage. Do without. We cannot pay blackmail. For 5 years our inflation has been zero....thus, zero justification for any increases ! ! !
My man is a mechanical engineer, who in these 5 years has had a company closed it's doors, after workers had lived no furlough pay for 18 months, long unemployment, then an hourly, no benfits contractor for military missle builder, who's entire designing dept was just terminated because company has to hire returning military.
That's a good cause, but those 50 yr olds don't have many options for work, and most have spent their own savings for 'retirement' subsidizing the furloughs and Unemployed periods. Yet, these greedy BART blood-suckers, expect huge raises for guaranteed secure contract jobs, pushing buttons. I have nothing but contempt for them. They should appreciate that they have jobs, and have had jobs, and have any benefits at all. Taxpaying public must take charge of dollars being blown without reason. Just because the greedy 'demand' doesn't mean we have to cave in to opportunistic greed of the uneducated, who don't get the concept of 'the well is dry'.
Interesting free market approach, Joe. You are accepting the argument that you have more "freedom" to move from job to job because the corporations are unwilling to compensate you better. Agreed that the union has a lot of power due to its ability to disrupt service, but that's how it works. If you work for a good company, but that company refuses to pay you well, you say that you have your "freedom" to move elsewhere. What if there is no elsewhere? Then you are saying you just have to suck it up and take the lower salary.
In a nation where the top CEO's make over 700 TIMES what the lowest wage workers make, we can certainly see where the compensation is going...
Tom, look around the Bay Area, come back and report what you see. There is incredible mobility in the private workforce, and companies compensate by raising and lowering salaries based on their desire to attract and retain a quality workforce. Even so, a typical engineer switches jobs every few years, sometimes less.
The point is that none of this exists in the public sector where public employee unions exist. There is no mobility; there is no reward for merit; there is no incentive to do a good job for career advancement or for a better salary.
John, there is no company that would tolerate your blood-sucking demands, which would force company closure. WE may have to close down BART too. There are LIMITS. You have already exceeded those limits, and are in very dangerous air control territory. Union leaders feed propaganda to the ignorant, as if ANY BART employee has the skills to be a CEO for comparison, I assure you there is NO BART employee that has the skills to be a CEO.
Tom, private companies job description skill and a value placed on the position. Everybody behaves like civil, thinking humans and recognizes those limits, OR THE COMPANY will CLOSE. Sadly, BART employees think there are no limits. WRONG ! There are limits and it is time to closeup and start over. We can. It's cheaper in the long run. We, the public would be fools to even engage in this insanity.
John and Tom, you know there is no company in CA that would meet your current pay/benefits for your 'skill' level !! Your arrogance and greed is intolerable. There has been no inflation to justify your excesses, if you could only do math. You should be kissing our behinds that you HAVE a job in this economy, and get any paycheck at all ! You VALUE yourselves much too highly.
Angry should be directing his anger at corporations who have reduced him to a squirming, squealing little pig who is too cowardly to organize the workers around him and has settled for the crumbs the corporations now give him and others. The unions, as per usual, set the standard, as historically they always have, though there are uneducated crybabies like "Angry" who accept what their masters tell them and whine about unions getting fair wages.
Unfortunately this discussion, especially between "Angry" and "Tom" is starting to turn into unfortunate name calling. The fact remains that BART employees are well paid and as they demand pay increases, offer nothing in return. As I said in a previous posting, "Unions have only resulted in a general lack of pride, a feeling of "entitlement" just "because", all at the same time with absolutely no responsibility for anything. My opinion only, based upon many, many years dealing with unions. Non unionized workers are paid on the basis of their contribution and perceived value to the organization. In this relationship, either party can choose to separate and work elsewhere. To demand increased wages, continued free or minimal contribution for benefits, while at the same time contributing absolutely nothing in return to improve the BART system is ludicrous". Tom has yet to identify his source for his 3% claim in his first posting. On what basis does Tom feel that BART employees deserve any kind of pay increase and what are they offering in return for any increase?
You're offering nothing but hollow platitudes. Workers to switch companies get labeled a malcontents -- and then they're screwed. Workers don't get paid based upon their worth (another myth taken from roundly rejected Adam Smith's 18th century theory), but get paid as low as owners can get by with. It isn't based upon merit; it's based upon power. Unions recognize this. You obviously don't like unions. My guess is that you have never had the guts to organize those around you. Instead, given your opaque references to your dealings with unions, it sounds like you've acted the part of a trained dog for the power wielders who'd like nothing better than to break unions. Please stop sputtering this nonsense about being 'well paid'. Unions are better at getting workers higher wages, more healthful and sanitary work conditions, higher benefits, greater safety, and more protection from arbitrary firings and demotions. You resent this. Your loss. Stop your whining. Go start your own union.
Oh, and by the way, you haven't responded to my above claims. Instead, no doubt because you have no compelling response, you've reduced me to a name caller. You have no credibility.
I use Bart every day and I'll find a workaround to this. I'm sure it will be a pain but I wouldn't have an issue it they fired the entire striking team and train replacements. Take 2 to 3 months that fine my general experience from the few I've had to deal with is they have an attitude and are of little help. Replace them with some people that appreciate making $60k to $80k a yean not including benefits. I don't think they will have any issue filling ranks.
Greedy union. The workers get a great salary plus they have a great pension that they do not pay into, and almost no cost for their medical insurance; and they are asking for a raise? They should be paying their full rate for their pension (like we have to pay into Social Security, out companies never pay our part), and more for medical insurance like the private sector.
Like walter said, it is time to train the replacements.
Oh boy, here we go again. Dave has no responses to my comments/validity claims, so he adopts false personae of Wally and resident. Arguments? Nope. All he can do is offer the errant proposition that union workers do better than nonunion workers. Yes, union hater, that's why workers vote to have a union. And it is why there are virtually no examples of workers voting to NOT have a union. Why hold up cowardly nonunion, exploited workers as standard? Why not try to uplift nonunion wages/pensions/benefits? Historically, unions set the bar. Those who complain are dogs trained by owners to do their bidding/whining. Why should unionized workers give a flying hoot what nonunion workers make?
Apparently it is surprising news to Tom that many others share the opinion that BART employees are already well paid, especially when one looks at their current level of pay and benefits. The $130,000 in annual compensation that the average BART worker receives makes them among the best-compensated transit workers in the nation. But the union wants to have a 23% increase over the next four years, all at the same time rejecting the idea of having workers contribute to their pension plan and changing their health benefits. I would ask (again)on what basis does Tom feel that BART employees deserve any kind of pay increase and what are they offering in return for any increase? I'm not sure what comments or questionable validity claims that Tom has apparently made that one should respond to.
Unions set the standards, Dave boy. You recognize no validity claims because there are none among the several I have made that you appear capable of either recognizing or responding to.
Dave doesn't get his way. Bwah, bwah bwah. Stuck in his infantile state, unable to appreciate that in order for workers to get what they deserve, he doesn't know enough to mobilize, organize, and unionize. Instead, he simply parrots the whining platitudes of the corporate-owned media.
Living in Bay Area, earning between 60 and 80 grand a year. I don't begrudge any workers for negotiating for more. Kudos to them for sending out 72-hour warning. My next door neighbor made more than that off the stock market in the past month. Who worked harder?
I do not have a problem with unions setting standards in a free market but our transportation system is not a free market as there is no competition plus it is paid for by taxpayer dollars.
Tom, you are saying that your neighbor made a ton of money in the stock market, therefore the transportation workers paid for by my tax dollars should receive a raise? By the way, union workers can invest in the stock market. Thank you for admitting that the unions feel they are entitled to our money.
You realize that a raise to the workers means higher fares. Those higher fares will hit both union and non-union workers who rely on this transportation system.
If you want to see how public employee unions can destroy things, just look at the current state of California. Government workers forget they work for the residents/taxpayers, not the other way around.
Why don't you keep the original names you have been posting under, 'resident'? You know why? Because you have no arguments to counter my own, and so you adopt another persona.
There is no such thing as a free market. Such is only a figment of Adam Smith's imagination way back in the 18th century. It remains your own because you haven't read much, and so you're susceptible to corporate media whining about how unions wreck the free market.
I'm not saying workers should get a raise because my neighbor makes more on the stock market in one month than transportation workers make in a year. (And if you believe that's what I'm saying, than you're even dumber than I thought.) Rather, I am saying that transportation workers have the right to negotiate for higher wages and if they get those higher wages, well, all the more power to them. They've unionized, and they use their union solidary as means to accrue higher wages.
If California is going to hell in a hand basket as you claim, it surely isn't because of unionized workers negotiating for higher wages. It's because tax revenues have not increased in a way that covers state workers' wages. Why is that? My guess is because of dumb and selfish folks like yourself who haven't wanted to pay a fair tax for a certain level of service provided by the state.
As voting results indicate, however, yours is a dying breed. But no doubt about it, you and yours keep on whining while workers continue to organize. Guess who wins, chump?
I work in the private sector and believe there is a place for unions so long as they, don't become corrupted with power and greed. However, the BART union demands for an automatic 23% increase over the next four years, without employee contribution to their pension plan or health benefits, is absolutely astounding. They obviously are living in the past, or maybe even on a different planet entirely. That is not the world we live in today. When the economy turned weak in 2009, my company cut expenses, stopped merit increases completely for three full years, severely trimmed bonus plans, and did what it could to limit layoffs. Finally, last year a small 3% merit increase was granted. This year the increase is only 2%. Also during that time, health care costs for the company have continued to rise and to a lesser degree, the worker's contribution toward health care have risen somewhat also. With this situation so common for many in the private sector, the union is deluded and disconnected if it expects sympathy from the tax-paying public. It's inflated demands certainly do not have my support.
Middle-class folks' wages/salaries have been flat since Ronald Reagan further paved the way for obscenely increased income disparity in the US. In real dollars, middle-class earnings are equivalent to what was earned in the mid 80's.
BART workers, after having rec'd no raises in past five years, after giving back $100 million four years ago, seeing the system operate with a surplus, and witnessing BART management giving themselves a recent 10% wage increase, have demonstrated the audacity of asking for 4.5% raises over the next three years.
This is a model that other workers in the private sector might look to. But "Work in Town", thwarted after posting under other names, poses his groveling co-workers as a better model than the BART workers'. Don't organize, don't ask for more, but instead buy into the owners'/managers' assurances that their upper-class 200+% earnings since Reagan are necessary to sustain job creating heroes' lifestyles. Pretty pathetic how workers like 'Work in Town' have adopted a coward's response to the glaring inequality of wealth in this country.
Bravo BART workers. Show the grovelers and boot lickers how it is done!
the union goons are not supposed to own our lives. We paid for BART and service should not be dispensed at the pleasure of some out of control (and, yes, extremely greedy) members of the privileged class that receive well more than the average BART rider (that also somehow have to "get by"). There are specific warnings about the inappropriate double whammy of public servants and collective bargaining. But of course the unions vote up their own politicians of the specific sort General Patton warned about that in turn scratch some backs while ignoring the regular folks they are supposed to represent.
I have a family member that paid tuition for an Art college in SF and made only one mistake in assuming that the only available option for transportation BART could be relied upon.
Countless lives of hard working folks of all education levels now face absurd levels of punishment whether on a train or attempting to navigate through the extra demand dumped onto the highways.
I sure hope that in spite of higher food prices some good folks will make the investment in eggs and tomatoes to correctly express the appropriate public response to this game of leveraging our own system to hold us all for an obscene and unsustainable ransom.
Like airline pilots and ocean cruise captains, BART workers should not make more than their average passenger does. Why? Because some are envious of those of us who hold a job and expect fair compensation.
What a ludicrous statement by Tom. Comparing an airline pilot and/or an ocean cruise captain to a BART operator. The amount of education and training for pilots far exceed anything necessary for a BART train operator. However, in fact, BART rank and file do as well if not better than airline pilots in general when one factors in the out of control benefit package that BART union members have, with far more responsibility than BART union members.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, reports that airline pilots earned an average of $118,070 per year in 2011. The majority were employed by the scheduled air transportation industry and averaged $119,180 per year. This is far more than most commercial pilots, who reported an average income of $76,050 in the same year. For example, pilots employed by the agricultural industry made an average of $61,010 in 2011, while life-flight pilots averaged $68,090 per year
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