Town Square

Will BART Management Wake Up to Reality?

Original post made by Mike Cherry on Aug 1, 2013

Other posters, after salivating over the so-called lavish lifestyle of BART workers, then rather gutlessly close off response channels. Never saw an argument they wouldn't run from, I guess.

A few unmentioned things need to be pointed out:

The stated average wage of BART employees includes some salaried management, and likely contains overtime pay as well. This pushes down the average wage of BART union workers, as the average BART worker likely earns considerably less than 74K per year.

Studies show that 74K is exactly how much is needed for a family of four to stay reasonably above the poverty line in the very expensive Bay Area. Some BART workers are unskilled; some are highly skilled. Their variegated, tiered wages reflect this.

The union demand for a raise is commensurate with projected cost of living increases over the next five years. Moreover, much of their increase will be offset by the sizable shrinkage in medical insurance costs once the ACA (Obamacare) is fully implemented.

Well over half of BART riders make a wage/salary above that of the average BART worker. Over seventy percent choose to ride BART rather than drive their car. They find, in other words, riding BART to be a cost saver relative to the expense of driving one's private auto in and around a very costly region to navigate one's car. Fares for ridership on BART are relatively low as compared to gas, upkeep, parking expenses for auto users.

The corporate media, ever sensitive to the advertising dollars of their corporate masters, have painted the BART workers in a negative way. Why? Because a well-publicized victory for labor will make things increasingly uncomfortable for all employers who pay their workers less than they deserve. In other words, other workers will be impressed by BART workers' victory, and so perhaps use as basis for forming and articulating their own long overdue demands.

The BART workers' demands are reasonable. That public transportation workers in other cities or regions may make less than BART workers should have no bearing on the issue of justice for BART workers. What is more relevant is the following: Since the cannibal Ronald Reagan ate labor for breakfast every morning he was in office, the wealthy have amassed their wealth at a rate of 270% of that of the middle-class - those, that is, who are still working, who haven't lost their jobs to greedy corporate flight and irrational govt downsizing.

Since Reagan's cannibalistic behavior, labor has been in retreat. Unions continue to be busted up, while more and more workers are being forced to rely upon food stamps as a basic survival stratagem for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, fat, wealthy white boys in little boy tea shirts lounge on the golf course and fret about 'unrealistic' workers who dare to think that they deserve a wage that keeps them and their children in the middle class.

Well, labor has decided here to make a stand. As BART workers and most of the rest of us who work to earn a living fully recognize: A victory for BART workers is a victory for all workers.

VIVA BART workers! VIVA American workers! VIVA Justice for all!


Posted by Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:37 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:15 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"Well, labor has decided here to make a stand. As BART workers and most of the rest of us who work to earn a living fully recognize: A victory for BART workers is a victory for all workers." I've posted the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site enough times already where this is noted as patently untrue.

"Well over half of BART riders make a wage/salary above that of the average BART worker." Wages are not based on the incomes of one's customers.

If you want to quote an accurate average salary for a BART employee, we would appreciate it including the shorter work week, the estimated value add of free ridership for a family of four on BART, free pension, and true cost of health benefits (minus the $92/mo paid by said employees).

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

See, this is where your actual argumentative 'skills' always fail you, Kathleen. All you can do is do what you do best, snipe away with slender reeds that offer no one any substantive grasp whatsoever.

Re. your first paragraph. How Bureau of Labor stats make my claim about workers' victory 'patently untrue' amounts to wishful thinking on your part. Do you know anything about what you're talking? It doesn't seem like it.

Re. your second paragraph. Yes, but knowing what BART workers' wages are compared to riders' wages/salaries provides a useful bit of information that can rightly be used to refute the common lament by you, Timmy, and the rest of the tea party clown club that the workers' demands are unrealistic. They are not, at all. Look at riders' earnings; look at what is needed to live relatively comfortably in Bay Area; note the absence of a raise in five years; note that what management is offering amounts to a wage cut over five years.

Whoa! Free ridership! That'll put a huge dent into the stats! Thanks for your acutely churlish insight there, Kath. Imagine! BART workers riding at no cost! Oh, but your ragged ideological slip is showing, Kath. You see, pensions are not "free" as you would have us believe. Was your own pension "free"? Pensions are part of earnings, deferred into the future. Maybe you didn't (too busy stewing about the achievements of others?), but most of us have worked for our pension packages.

Spit the toad out of your mouth, woman. The world won't end after BART workers get the wage hike they justly deserve. Oh, you and Willy Tell and Dave and the rest of you embittered souls may continue to stew in your view that no one deserves to do better than yourselves, but frankly, none of us care about your inflated sense of personal entitlement.

Posted by Guest, a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I think what the unions are asking for is a bit asinine. The safety issues I can understand. It's not like they are going through Wonderland. But the wage increase!!!?? Give me a break. I'm a teacher and BART custodian makes more than I do as well as my colleagues. I guess I should quit doing what I love and go clean up poop covered BART stations toilets and puke and food scraps left all over the trains. (FYI, being a teacher doesn't mean I get 3 months off. I get one month off total. Work till end of June and start August 1st.)

One thing to think about too is if the unions got the way (some 20% increase), the cost to ride BART will go up. I'd rather drive.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Yes, Guest, I'm sure everyone believes you ... and would indeed like to see you cleaning up poop and vomit covered BART toilets. Then your assigned work load would be commensurate with your intellect.

Have anything new to add to the discussion? Didn't think so. Do you know what the discussion is?

Try. To. Follow. The. Argument. ... So, you're a teacher, eh? Teaching your dog to bark for a snack is not being a teacher. Sorry. I bet you're a 'chemist' too, yes?

Posted by mm, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Yawn, same union arguments.

First of all, the Bay Area representatives have decided that BART is the crucial transportation network and as part of their One Bay Area, they are forcing cities to build residential by the BART system. People are not taking BART because it is a good value necessary. They are taking BART because the area legislatures have said that no additional roads to solve our traffic mess; use BART. Your argument that there are people riding BART that make more than the BART employees and it is not fair is right out of Socialist 101.

I think some people could accept the high average salary of BART employees if they did not have the sweet deals of a free pension and health insurance that is almost free. You would be hard up to find BART rides with benefits like this. Funny how you are blaming the health care costs on Obamacare. The unions supported Obama and Obamacare because it would save money. Are you saying now that Obamacare will not bring down medical costs but rather increase them?

With even the liberal papers saying the union demands are too much makes a huge statement. The local papers have always supported the unions. This time they are not supporting the union, and they are not even staying out of it. They are right by saying the union demands are outrageous. The works must pay their share for their pensions. Anything less is ripping the taxpayer off. The union members should be grateful and thanking us that they had the free pensions for this long.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Compare and contrast...the unpopular BART unions vs another unpopular union, the CA Teachers' Association.

Guess what basic family medical costs per month if you're a member of the CTA?

Nowhere close to the $92 a month being paid by BART's over $1,700 a month. And that's the least expensive option.

This by itself is $20,000 per year in compensation to the BART workers.

Posted by mm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

And if I remember correctly, the BART union members can keep paying a ridiculous low rate for health insurance, even after they leave the agency (retire, etc.).

Joe, you are correct. The BART union members make more than teachers (when adjusting for overtime), has insurance for way under what a teacher pays, and pays nothing to their pension (teachers pay 8%?). Which job do you think take more education and training???

California has one of the highest tax rates but pays the teachers much less than average. The reason is because we pay too high of salaries for other jobs (like BART operators) and pay too much for their benefits. The BART union is essentially taking money away that could be put to a better use; teachers. The problem is not that we are not taxed enough. The problem is how the money is spent like this. Also, go to any other large metropolitan area outside of California and see what their transit costs. We pay much more for BART.

Posted by right, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Mikie, your venomous posts continue to shine the light on the thugish behavior we've all come to expect from spoiled union drones. You have done nothing to help your cause, in fact the opposite is true.
Good luck walking the picket line. I look foward to the time when your daily payouts for walking the line come to an end.
God bless Ronald Reagan...he had the right idea....

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Mike, The Bureau's statistics show that union sectors have a higher rate of pay that does not correlate back to the private sector. The part of your claim that is untrue is that you do not raise all boats.

You could have stopped your next paragraph after "Yes." The lady selling a Hermes scarf or the guy building an expensive car is not expecting to average their clients' wages to determine their own salary.

A BART employee riding from Pleasanton to Powell is not paying $11.30 RT or about $2,800 a year (5 days/week for 50 weeks). I'm fine with this benefit, by the way, but few people are paid for their travel expenses to and from their jobs. Add trips by family members or for working overtime or for riding the rails in retirement and multiply over the number of employees and it IS a notable expense.

Calling a pension deferred compensation means one has to believe a BART employee would, on average, otherwise earn $95,000 a year and set aside money for retirement on their own. (" . . . the average pension payment per retiree/beneficiary is only $21,049" I am using this figure only because it is from a site you won't dispute.)

"The world won't end after BART workers get the wage hike . . . " Not literally, but the fact that you write this says you are counting on people being complacent. Many people out earn others and for a variety of reasons such as education, experience, responsibility, and successful entrepreneurial ideas regardless of the first three in this list. "I want what s/he's got" doesn't cut it.

Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Mike -
What is the proper ratio of average Bart worker salary to average BART rider?
And what should be the proper savings of riding BART relative to the cost of driving?
Ratios are intriguing, but what is the objective to be reached?

Posted by Frizzel, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

So who says being a BART employee is supposed to support a family of 4 in the Bay Area? The cost of living is so high in the Bay Area, that most families have to have two wage earners, often with both of them having college educations. Most BART employees have only a high school education, and likely some of them don't have that. The idea that a BART job is supposed to support a family of 4 is preposterous. Now, as we know, when you through in all the overtime these slugs routinely stack up, along with their obscene benefit package, their annual total compensation is $178,000 per year. The rest of the public is having to toil like crazy to be able to work in the Bay Area, and on top of that, pay through the nose for BART slugs over-the-top pay package. Call you BART director today and raise hell. Let them know if they settle this strike, they will get voted out. Fire all striking BART employees and hire replacements at half the pay.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

Having moved from the midwest, I've come to realize how detached from reality many people are here in California. Cherry's post proves how absurd the logic often is.

So if a person can't afford to live in a particular area, we should all subsidize him so he can? If employees bankrupt communities' budgets and their financial future, then that's the price we all have to pay to ensure the employee has a 'living wage'?

This is crazy, crazy stuff.

Posted by Open market fairness to all, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Aug 2, 2013 at 8:46 am

So what is a fair wage? Economists would have us look at competitive alternatives to determine what is a win win vs. what customers of BART workers make to determine wages. Mike's argument would give all assistants to the CEO raises to be close to the CEO wage.

A competitive wage is determined by finding the point where people with a similar education level and skill set as BART workers would accept a wage of about $70K/year free health care and pensions to replace existing BART workers.

I suspect there are plenty of people who would jump at that offer. That is why most other transit system workers make much less that BART workers. We need to be fair to all - customers, existing employees and prospective employees who are looking for jobs.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 2, 2013 at 9:09 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Mike has commented that BART employees should make the average of what BART riders earn. One could apply that point for pensions and health benefits as well where the average of what riders are paying for those items should also be what BART employees pay.

Posted by Helen, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 2, 2013 at 9:15 am

Write to your state reps and ask them to hurry through a law banning strikes by public sector workers--including BART and teachers!! Oregon and NY state have done just that.
They can hurry the process if they want to. IF enough people write and request such a law, it may very well get done quickly.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

I have e-mailed both of our local state representatives, and in addition e-mailed Eric Swalwell regarding the BART strike and what other cities have done to avoid such strikes, have yet to hear anything from any of our elected officials. I think they just don't want to antagonize the unions, hence will not say or do anything.
Here is a link to Joan Buchanan's official site. Web Link

Posted by Marie, a resident of Las Positas
on Aug 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

"Well over half of BART riders make a wage/salary above that of the average BART worker."

I would like to see the statistical facts behind that claim. Being a daily BART rider for many years, I can almost guarantee that those riding BART are making significantly less wages. Especially during the morning/evening commute when you have elderly, (seemingly) struggling parents with children in strollers, homeless and obvious poor, and even children riding alone trying to get to school. I sit next to these people everyday. I can't imagine these folks made more than the average BART worker. I understand that pay is usually tiered and based on skills/experience, but please don't assume everyone else makes more than BART workers because that claim is baseless.

This claim is similar to the Unions recent claim that BART averages a 95% on-time rate, when I have daily "BART Delay" emails in my email box to disprove that claim, in addition to my own experiences.

I'm not anti-union, but I am pro-logic.

Posted by Frizzel, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

The Bay Area Congresspersons and State Legislators are bought and paid for by the unions. We will get no help from them. Only way to get help on that front is to quit electing politicians that are beholden to the unions (i.e. Democrats)

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 2, 2013 at 10:25 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Marie, What I posted on an older PW BART thread:

The BART demographics I previously posted:
According to the demographics study done by BART, 46% of riders have a lower income than the average BART union member (incomes of $74,000 or less). Page 12: Web Link

Posted by economics, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

currently cost $7.60 round trip per person from the Pleasanton BART station to the A's game. A family of 4 drives and you are looking at a little gas and an outrageous $17.00 dollars to park. The parking fee aside you are looking at $30 dollars currently versus the parking. If the rates go up even more then it will make even more sense to drive unfortunately and will not have to put up with the odor.

Posted by Helen, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm

You are right Dave, they never met a union vote they didn't love.

Posted by Bill Whinton, a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Credibility of author goes to zero with "fat, wealthy white boy..."

That does not sound like Viva justice for all.

Posted by citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hire more BART employees and put them all on a 20 hour week!!

Posted by Mark, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I hope they go on strike. They'll get what thet deserve.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2013 at 7:04 am

Well, lots of peevish hand-waving, but not much of substance beyond numerous posters here wanting to investigate BART workers' family -- how many family members in household -- and have BART management calculate workers' wages based upon familial need. Just shows how lack of substance and poor argumentative skills don't get you very far in this world. And so, as society passes the peevish ones by, they can do nothing but stew about how BART workers and their family members ride the BART system at no cost. Oh my! Tsk-tsk!

We do not live in a free market society folks. Never have. A few 18th century economists wrote about how they wished it were so. But it's never happened. Fox News and the rest of the corporate owned and operated media attempts to perpetuate the myth, but myth it is, and always has been. Capital reigns supreme, and exploitation of labor has been the historical norm for some centuries now. Short of violence, only working people's will to organize has genuinely addressed the injustice of the disparities and injustices of capital v. labor. BART workers, in this respect, are best seen to be carrying on working people's struggles against injustice. Unfortunately, because of tragic little girl experiences or an inability to get along with and work with others, some get left behind -- Dave, Kathleen, and others appear to be examples of this.

No one is saying, and I'm certainly not saying, that BART workers should not get a wage increase simply because over half of BART riders make more than do BART workers, though this is an interesting fact. No, BART workers deserve a wage increase because they have successfully formed a union that has contracted to provide reasonable work for a reasonable wage. They've gone five years without a wage increase, always hearing about how BART system was in the red. Now, given that BART is operating in the black, workers have voiced reasonable demands for a long-deferred wage increase that can keep them afloat in an expensive region amidst inflation and much else.

The peevish, emotionally wounded ones stew over the unions' successes, which have been good for all workers. They say the union members are 'slugs' who are acting 'crazy' and 'unrealistically'. No, quite to the contrary, BART workers are acting all too rationally in this society where we have not arrived at a consensus as to what counts as a genuinely fair society. Their task is to maximize their own interests, because no one else will do it for them. But, oh, what fury this causes among the churlish, wounded ones whose lives have been marred by an inability to act in solidarity with others! These 'deadened ones' will be left behind by history.

Bill Whinton: I didn't realize that "fat, wealthy, white boys" were an historically mistreated class. Rest assured, in a genuinely just society free speech will prevail (not to be confused with hate speech used to oppress historically marginalized peoples). You maybe should read a bit more in this area than you have.

VIVA BART workers! VIVA all of America's workers! VIVA justice!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 3, 2013 at 8:46 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Good morning Mike. First, you lose credibility with comments like "little girl experiences" and "peevish, emotionally wounded ones" and "churlish, wounded ones" (you're actually having to be repetitive). And the Cholo-like "vivas" aren't helping either. Clinging to history rather than looking up to see this is the 21st century is costing unions members. Web Link

The total cost to BART of free ridership, that you so happily scoff, is $2.1 million a year (SF Chronicle, yesterday). And it is a vested benefit after only five years of employment? Generally speaking, I have no problem with this perk—but it is a substantive cost to the organization and it is an additional benefit to those receiving it (read: income).

"BART workers . . . are best seen to be carrying on working people's struggles against injustice." You are, first, working for the government, not railing against corporate greed. You are, in fact, about to hurt working class people, the predominant portion of ridership needing BART (Tri Valley Times, today). Union leaders also will be losing wages for every member who goes on strike Monday (and we know no one will be allowed to cross those picket lines even if they tried).

". . . workers have voiced reasonable demands for a long-deferred wage increase" Reasonable: opinion. Reasonable demands: oxymoron. "expensive region amidst inflation and much else" Union members have something similar to step and column salary schedules where their hourly rate increases each year they are on the job. There are other milestone increases that I have not delved into (SEIU's contract is in the range of 200 pages). Employees have not gone without raises for five years. And there is the economic question of how salaries are determined and what the market is willing to pay. Given recent polls, the market is not willing to pay more.

" . . . an inability to act in solidarity with others" Every person showing up to work is acting in solidarity with others or they are losing their jobs.

Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

Raise the salaries of the employees who work hard and get their jobs done. Get the unions the hell out of it. If Bart were managed like a private, non-unionized company, the trains would run closer to schedule and the cars would not smell like crap.

Posted by mm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

Here is the main point from Mike's ramble, "Their task is to maximize their own interests." That is correct. Also says, "provide reasonable work for a reasonable wage." I think most people feel that union is getting more than a reasonable wage already when you factor in overtime, medical insurance, and a free pension. The insurance and pension benefits are definitely not reasonable. And since BART workers currently have the power to shutdown the transportation grid with a strike, they have the ability to hold the riders hostage. Something else that is not reasonable.

Repeating what was said earlier, there is no corporate greed here. This is the simple fact that we have a finite amount of tax income and we need to reign in the costs of BART, not make it worse.

While this strike will be unfortunate to the riders, I hope it makes the public boil over to do something about the ability to strike. In the end, the workers are going to lose out with public support and future wages and benefits.

Most workers have been receiving raises through step raises so it is false to say that they have not been receiving raises plus the ridiculously low price for health insurance is like a raise as everybody else is paying more for health insurance but BART workers are not, essentially an increase in wages for them.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

It appears that Mike's real purpose for posting is to simply "stir the pot". Some other posting had said that perhaps Mike's purpose was to focus the attention of the general population on just how out of control the union really was ( I'm paraphrasing, not a direct quote) and in that sense he has succeeded in doing so wonderfully. His opening statement regarding "peevish hand waving, but not much of substance" conveniently overlooks the reams of links provided for his education. I have yet to see one link from Mike from any reputable source that supports the union's demands. Yet Mike plods on with remarks like "tragic little girl experiences or an inability to get along with and work with others" which have no bearing on the facts widely disseminated by many news organizations. Regarding Mike's comment that BART is operating in the black, it is obvious that one of the oldest transit systems in the nation needs to be updated. In contrast to private enterprise that would save money for capital improvements, BART needs to do all it can to pay cash out of pocket because there's no routine reserve for capital equipment replacement reserve. The options typically are begging for federal money or further raising fares. Mike's only answers for the facts are more childish comments that have no relevance to the facts about BART.

Posted by Nursing at the trough, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Ellen Corbett and Jerry Brown sit silently in their offices. Why?? Right! they're owned by the unions!! They won't touch this strike!! Nodding their heads, muttering 'screw the peons'.

Posted by Arroyo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Frizzell is correct. The unions own the legislature in California. Union political contributions get their candidates elected - and it's quid pro quo.

Nothing will change in this State until we decide that we've had enough and make better decisions when we enter the voting booth.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2013 at 7:11 am

Again, what we get from Kath and the rest of the clown club is churlish and dishonest comments, nothing more.

Yes, today there are fewer union members nationwide than in prior decades. And America's average wages and lost jobs reflect this. Corporate America, as well as corporate-backed government (see Wisconsin), has had its way with America's workers. That is why, among other reasons, the BART strike is important, as it symbolizes the plight of workers across America.

It appears the 76k average wage bandied about in the uncritical corporate media is a lie. Base wages are 60k, and management, in control of the stats, hands out wages+overtime figure as annual wage to media and media dutifully parrot's management's claims.

BART members' free rides on BART system costs the system nothing, despite Kath Reugsugger's dishonest claim. No one is losing a seat, no one is paying higher fares because of it. To claim so is dishonest. This is like the grocer, who sees shoppers who shop elsewhere across town, complaining about the 'cost' of not having those shoppers shop at his own store. Ah, but he claims he might make $2.1 million more if they shopped at his store! Tough toenails.... Fact is, Kath and the rest of the peevish ones on this site are apoplectic because some are allowed a benefit while they, the privileged little darlings they think they are, can't claim the same benefit. Poor babies.

Yes, no one wants a strike. But given the way management has lied about facts while playing the media like a fiddle (violating a court-ordered gag rule), it should surprise no one that workers decide to strike. To claim they're striking solely against government is to reveal a stunning paucity of understanding as to how the govt and corporations form an intersecting set of interests that has ensured that workers -- those who still have a job -- haven't seen their wages rise since the 1980s while the wealthy continue to amass ungodly heaps of money. A strike disrupts corporate America's operations. Such is why the corporate media has swallowed management's lies and printed the kinds of overwhelmingly biased stories they have. Emphasis: stories ... big, whopping stories.

Kath Rugsegger adds dumbness to dishonesty when she claims demand+reasonable is an oxymoron. A demand emanates from someone who has less power than the recipient of the demand. The demand can be quite reasonable, especially if power holder shows deceit and an intractable refusal to bargain in good faith. Such is the case with BART workers.

Perhaps the federal govt. will have to step forward and supplement BART more than it currently does. This is not a bad thing. We need to get govt more involved in support of the working classes and things that benefit workers -- e.g, BART system vs tens of thousands of govt employees situated along the US border staring at dirt. Yes, this will mean raising taxes. A majority of America, in support of President Obama, and a majority of California, in support of a Dem governor and legislature, realizes this and supports raising taxes, on the rich. Obama made no secret about this; it was a critical plank of his stated agenda.

Stating, as has a local corporate media rag, that the public thinks management has done a better job than the union in presenting its case (while violating a gag order) begs the question: Why didn't the rag ask whether the respondents actually supported the strike? You can bet it did; but results of the pseudo-question of 'which has done a better case in media' was printed instead; and all the peevish, wounded ones on this site, unable to grasp the idea of working-class solidarity, gobble up the propaganda.

BART workers should be given credit for valiantly defending the right of working people everywhere to be paid a fair wage -- one that brings workers a wage increase that provides them the opportunity to live in a region in which $74k is needed to keep a family above the poverty line.

Posted by Nursing at the trough, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

Obviously, Mike thinks we're idiots. Times, BayAreaNewsGroup in July 28 article posted article and charts that without high-paid police and executives, blue-collar BART pay was $76,551. in 2012. That is the highest of all transit workers in CA, next closet ($10K below) was SFMuni at $73,594. Highest pay of all AGENCIES, all workers, was BART at $83,157. Next closest was city/county of San Francisco at $74,113.
Mike stop feeding us crap, we KNOW the facts...your con is tiresome and makes you look even MORE foolish in your desperation. The 'people' are saying NO to your greedy, childish tantrum.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

That 'pay' includes overtime. Yes, I do believe most of you are sad idiots who, either because of cognitive deficit or emotional truncation, aren't able to empathize with your working-class neighbors.

Hey Nurse, try to read objectively, not the swill being ladled out by the corporate media. Funny how all you with your teapot domes scream to the heavens that the media is liberal, but then when that same media presents obviously skewed data that suits your own pinched view of the world, you're willing to proclaim the media's 'facts' as infallible truths.


Posted by mm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2013 at 8:57 am

Mike is just another one of those who feels entitled to our money. Now he want the federal government to subsidize BART more so the workers can get even more. I am part of the working class, as Mike puts it, but I get paid based on my performance.

Mike whines because he feels the media is not taking their side. The media is not taking your side because you are completely out of control. For the liberal media to say that demonstrates that.

Oh, if you cannot defend the facts, shoot the messenger. That is all that Mike can do, when there are no facts to support his side.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

Would only ask Mike (again) please supply some validated facts for his ranting's.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

I'm not sure how Mike's logic works in stating that "BART members' free rides on BART system costs the system nothing". If one is riding and not paying, then the system is losing that fare.

Posted by mm, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I guess if I do not pay my fare it does not cost the system anything. I will let the BART police know this if they stop me from entering without paying my fare.

I think that Mike is taking his info from the CalPERS playbook. Remember when they said that the increased pension benefits will not cost us anything? NEVER, I repeat NEVER, listen to a government agency or union that says that a benefit will cost us nothing.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"it symbolizes the plight of workers across America" You inflate your importance to this country.

"hands out wages+overtime figure as annual wage" I posted a link to all BART wages a long time ago. By the way, if that is what you make in a year, that is what you make annually.

"no one is paying higher fares because of it." It's a $2.1 million hit to the budget. Somebody is making up for it, riders or taxpayers. It is income to those receiving the benefit. I think it is a reasonable perk, but you need to acknowledge the income – maybe pay income tax on it too.

You mean "intersecting set of interests among politicians" and unions, don't you?

"A strike disrupts corporate America's operations." No, it disrupts the lives of their employees. These are honest people trying to make a living, people who will drive, bus, ferry, walk, cycle, telecommute, etc. Seems to me those people understand that one works and is paid; one goes to school and earns higher wages; one comes up with their own company and earns more. Generally speaking, those making "ungodly heaps of money" earned it (yes, there are cases of those who cheated).

So management, being in the minority, is making the reasonable demand because they are the ones with less power, right? The greater power is wielded by unions via the strikes they threaten, the contracts that prevent others from stepping into their jobs, and the politicians they own who will not remove the right to strike in this state (and who appear to be absenting their support of unions at the moment).

We need to get more federal support so we can tax the entire country to support BART demands? I'm sure transportation workers across the country are anxious to pay more out of their smaller paychecks on some remote chance they might get better wages and pay higher taxes so you can get better wages . . . it's a mobius strip.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"By the way, if that is what you make in a year, that is what you make annually."

Well, that didn't come out quite right. A better way, perhaps, is to say when you count on and get overtime every year, it is income that can be used to determine your average salary.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

I see all the FOX News watchers are out in force, led by the tea bag libertarian ideologue, as they all jump aboard the pro-fascism bus.

Yes, you're all afraid of unionized workers having a genuine voice in the political process. Corporations contribute millions upon millions to political campaigns, but organized labor shouldn't be able to contribute ANYTHING because, see, workers shouldn't be allowed to organize at all. You know, just let corporations and business orgs (Chamber of Commerce) have their say, and let workers take the crumbs that are given to them.

If workers had the power you little cowards think they have, their wages wouldn't have remained stagnant over the past 30+ years, and they'd still have jobs where now those jobs are being performed by exploited kids in places like Jakarta and Bangladesh. And while worker' wages have remained stagnant, the wealthy have become far wealthier, yeah, despite those toweringly powerful unions that control politicians. (What a laugh!) The myth of workers controlling politicians remains alive among the little bootlickers who are afraid their masters' power and control is going to somehow loosen up in the face of organized workers exercising real voice.

Fact is, those who are opposed to unions (and who thus are in support of corporations running roughshod over the American political system) are fascists. Fact is, the only thing standing between reality today and tomorrow's full-fledged fascism is a well-organized, vocal, powerful workforce.

We see how the corporate media have uncritically accepted BART management's figures. Of course! They are both on the same side. Unions have had to contest this arrangement since unions were formed. Some things don't change. Yes, people in corporations may have their lives disrupted by a strike. But that is not what the struggle between BART workers and management is about. What's fueling this entire episode is major corporations' concern that a BART strike will take a bite into their PROFITS, and that a successful strike will reverberate across the American political-economic landscape inciting other workers to rise up and demand a better life for themselves and their families.

VIVA Organized Workers! VIVA All Workers!

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2013 at 11:12 am

I see Mike using the word "fact" with no facts attached. Typical of one who blusters with no factual information to support his bluster.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

Let me tell you a couple things you probably don't know, Dave. First, if claims of fact are invalid, it is the hearer's job to produce evidence to the contrary. Second, and I realize this will be a real stretch for you, facts are not always supportable by data; facts can also be produced through deductive reasoning. That's your lesson for the day -- a lesson you must have missed back in seventh grade.

Beyond that, thanks for yet another of your truly well thought out contributions to this post. You can now return to your cartoons.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

First of all, corporations can throw money at anything, but they aren't "people" and they can't show up at the voting booth. Unions, however, have voting power and have no problem telling the rank and file who to support.

As to stagnant wages, a person working for minimum wage or BART wages who does not go to school or come up with a brilliant idea all the rest of us want, should not expect their wages to keep increasing beyond cost of living increases. That's what COLA's are, acknowledgement of economics. Prove valuable to an organization, you'll get the promotion and commensurate increase in pay.

The chances of fascism overtaking America are as likely as someone taking down another plane without the passengers "revolting." The non-union workforce won't just stand by; they've already figured out how to succeed.

As to profits, don't buy from companies you don't support. But be careful; remember some of them are helping your pension plan try to stay viable.

As to corporations believing BART employees will take a bit out of their profits . . . well I suppose an employee could say, "Can I get a cost of living increase because BART workers ended up increasing my fares." But, again, stats show unions do not raise all boats. And, IMO, you once again overstate your importance.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Should have said "bite," but bit works too.

Posted by Dave , a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Here's a novel concept for Mike.
This from a very successful company, both from management and employee view point.
"Employees have an incentive to work better. Those who fill orders faster get paid more, while wages are reduced for workers who make mistakes. Workers are paid more for not making mistakes, as a result, they're much more efficient and that brings the profitability just a little bit higher."
Unions reward both excellence and mediocrity at the same rate , thereby destroying any individual initiatives.

Posted by Nursing at the trough, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Why is Mike dragging politics into debate. He's on such an illogical rant, there is no hope of him 'getting it'. Majority of regular union workers today, do not support the excesses BART workers are demanding. Shoes in Bangladesh has nothing to do with ridiculous medical token contributions, and refusal to contribute to one's OWN retirement. What arrogance. What greed.
Americans are free to purchase products from and invest in any company or NOT.
And their workers are free to stay or GO.
However, BART is as necessary as any bridge to get to jobs, so users are user/hostages. Taxpayers have no say nor voice in management or compensation of unskilled workers who are so easily replaceable. We are hostage to an unrealistic structure. I certainly would NOT invest in a company structure like BART. Yet, as a taxpayer I'm not free to 'sell' or 'walk'...I'm hostage to a system out of control...much to unrealistic to be allowed to continue. I hope it collapses as an organization, much like it will collapse in the Bay since there are NO maintenance funds, because of greedy and horribly STUPID employees who are consuming themselves and BART out of existence. Devouring (destroying) themselves into oblivion..... too blind to see the obvious, too deaf to HEAR the warnings, and too dumb to do the math. Through it all WE pay, WE have a right to be angry...damn angry !!
and with contempt for your Unjustified, Unrealistic demands.

Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I thought it telling when a BART union rep on Sunday night on KTVU said, when the announcement of the strike delay was made, how good it was there would be no strike because "it is harder to walk the picket lines than it is to drive the BART train."

Maybe she was arguing for strike pay greater than her BART pay? HA!

BART management should find that clip and play it back in ads for the next 60 days.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:39 am

Little snipes and snippets from little minds.

Kath Reugsegger claims unions are a threat, corporations not so much, because you see union members vote with their legs whereas corporations merely toss their money about for ads and buying off politicians.

The ignorance, nurtured by ideological blinkers, is startling. For no one holds a gun to union workers' heads; they vote for whom they want. Now, corporations-as-persons don't vote per se, but use millions and millions on advertising. And why? Because it works! Follow electoral politics sometime to see just how corporate money works.

But on Kath Rugsugger's view, it's unions that are to be feared. (More little girl bad experiences combined with an ideology that she's unable to defend as anything but the fascism she exudes.)

According to Ruegsegger, all workers are supposed to be brilliant: those who aren't shouldn't be rewarded beyond bare minimum; those who are are rewarded accordingly. Obviously, Kath spent too much time in the coffee room ruminating about what's happening in the corporate world. She apparently has no idea that corps now insist that all 'new ideas' coming from their workers belong to the corporation, which they can do with what they wish (e.g., auto companies for decades suppressing their workers' ideas for alternative fuel-powered autos so as to maintain fossil fuel profits).

My claim is basic: one cannot be opposed to unions in America without being a fascist. Kath and the rest of the small-minded, ideologically driven bird-brains who have been posting here have no response except -- work harder, for the corporation! come up with better ideas, for the corporation! Unable to articulate their own political position with any pith or coherence, all they can do is snipe with meanness and cliché. Got news for them. Eichmann worked hard for the Fuhrer; Eichmann had brilliant ideas for transporting people from point A to point B. He was rewarded handsomely. What did it add up to?

Viva American Workers Who Vote with Their Legs! Viva American Workers Who Are the Last Bulwark Against Creeping Fascism! Viva Strikes and Picket Lines, as American as Apple Pie!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2013 at 9:36 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I said corporations throw money around; unions get out the vote. Nowhere does that say unions are to be feared and corporations are not. But then you can't continue your rant without twisting what is said. I can only wonder what could be accomplished with all the money that is spent on campaigns by everyone involved.

If your idea is good enough, you go start your own company. Ever heard of Kickstarter?

Your claim is wrong, of course. First, you don't work for a corporation. So, yes, work harder. Go to school nights and/or weekends. Earn a promotion. Do something other than whine about your lot in life.

There are so many better people to point to as innovators and people moving the world in a better direction. Certainly Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison or the person who discovered fire or made the first spearhead. How about Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln, or perhaps the founders of our country? How about all the men and women who fought to end the likes of Eichmann and Hitler? There are numbers there worth adding up.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

Like I said, little snippets from little minds. Horatio Alger myth is alive and well. Still hasn't told us how her view is not fascist. Of course, spelling out her actual political views would expose that big fragile ego of hers. Easier just to snipe away and then when challenged deny the clear meaning contained in her snipes.

Still hasn't told us how our society, without unions, would not be fascist.

Unions v. Abraham Lincoln. Okay. Any other clown club ideas out there?

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I don't fit into your little molds for people. I don't fit into most people's labels. I have friends who think I am liberal, others who'd claim conservative. Been called a Democrat by Republicans and vice versa. A few say Libertarian.

Most of our society, Mike, does not belong to a union and yet we are still a democracy.

Not a matter of Lincoln and unions, of course. Just a great person pulling himself up from humble beginnings without all the whining and entitlement.

Support for the BART unions' stance on negotiations is waning. I don't support what is being demanded. I don't support union tactics. I said before, learn the budget, learn the impact to the budget for the long term, use interest based bargaining. Earn a promotion, go to school, stay where you are, whatever. I don't give a rip if there are unions, but I will speak up when the demands outstrip reality.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

In other words, you have nothing except a well-honed tendency to snipe with hackneyed, trite clichés.

Saying 'most of our society does not belong to a union and yet we are still a democracy' is like saying 'most of our society has never been president and yet we still are a democracy'.

To use your weak statement, imagine American democracy without the office of presidency; imagine it without the Supreme Court; imagine it without unions that have the right to strike. I'll tell you what you've got: Fascism ... and all because you can't get past some unfortunate little girl experiences and some big, unexamined biases.

My question, which you've now amply indicated you're unable to address, is what would our political-economic order look like without unions to counteract those institutions and persons that own and control. If you can't answer my question, then you don't have a clue about what holds a democracy in place vis-à-vis fascism.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

So if we lose the presidency, and then the Supreme Court, the last line of defense is unions. Who are you, Alexander Haig? And then we lose unions and the world goes dark.

What would the political-economic order look like? I know unions don't hold it in place or there would be more unionization. But unions are losing membership. Companies who are predominantly or completely non-union have other forces to answer to in order to remain successful: boards, shareholders (including large pension funds), customer demand, employee loyalty, and regulations regarding employment and safety to name a few.

It would seem your argument is that we are already 88.7% lost (union members at 11.3% in 2012). But you would have to assume those 88.7% don't have some percentage of Democrats or that they are blind to their managers' diabolical plans. I don't envision a world without unions because it is unlikely to happen. I also still don't expect that employees will be sucking their thumbs as some CEO becomes our dictator. But if I end up being wrong about this, feel free to call me, assuming we have phones. I'll gladly admit you were right.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Well, I see my argument, clearly cast well enough for most, proved to be too complex for Kathleen to follow. What a giggle! Once outside the province of Horatio Alger, Abe Lincoln, Jesus, and Buster McGhee, she's out of her element.

For the laugh of the evening, read my above post, then read Kathleen's response. I rest my case.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I read both Mike's and Kathleen's posting and I have to agree with the comment "laugh of the evening", however the laugh is really for the continued idiotic ranting's of Mike who has yet to ever supply anything of value, other than his infantile comments.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 6:34 am

A loss of any of our branches of government would represent a severe blow to our fledgling and embattled democracy. A loss of our workers' unions would also be a severe blow. We need a balance of institutional interests/forces in order for a pluralist democracy to maintain itself.

Stating ad nauseum, a la Kath, that unions are declining is not a justification for further diminishment. Although whittled down by forces of capital and the state (see, e.g., the historical plight of the CIO), unions continue to perform an indispensable role in our democracy.

Those who embrace the idea of a robust democracy should acknowledge the importance of unions -- and this over and above the obvious value unions have contributed to their members as well as nonunionized workers whose work conditions have been raised as a consequence of partaking of a political-economy in which workers' wages, conditions of work, and health benefits reverberate across the landscape.

A well-deserved raise for BART workers will no doubt be a benefit to transit workers across California who will be able to point to courageous BART workers as standard bearers in pursuit of fair wages for working people.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The first sentence is something we can agree on.

Organizations flourish or flounder for many reasons, so if unions are fading, it just could be their time, like buggy whips, is passing. While unions were important in giving workers a stronger voice, it is arguable whether they are still necessary in the 21st Century. You might want to ask Vallejo or Stockton or Detroit (and quite a few other cities and counties across the nation) about unions' indispensable role. But I don't actually see the demise of unions coming any time soon.

You want us to believe that all the benefits and wages for BART, already noted ad nauseum, aren't already sufficiently "fair" for the work provided. BART employees are paid handsomely, IMO. We'll find out today where things stand when the Governor's committee announces their findings.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

Here's Kath: "Gosh, unions are declining, so they must be becoming obsolete like buggy whips. Should I take into consideration the millions upon millions spent by corporations in order to systematically break unions? Should I take into consideration the millions upon millions spent by corporations on pols who legislate against the interests of working people? Heck no! I don't know about that and don't want to. After all, people are like buggy whips."

Buggy whips. Emanating from small minds that show a shocking inability to fathom the significance of corporate power as well as administrative state power and how, historically, both have been checked by union power.

Corporations have turned anti-unionism into something of a science -- locating workplace organizers and getting rid of them; threatening to close down workplaces that vote to unionize; actually closing workplaces (a la Walmart) after workers' herculean successful efforts to organize themselves.

Corporations didn't spend this kind of effort in order to ensure that buggy whips would become obsolete. The woeful analogy of unions to buggy whips is apt from a mind that fails to grasp the struggle between capital and labor within the US, and how capital has been winning the day.

Without the strike, and the threat to wage a strike, workers have no voice. Without unions, corporations have no effective competition in the struggle to control the political-economic environment. In short, we have fascism.

It is increasingly tragic that people like Kath and Dave can spout off with such confidence their political biases without having any knowledge of the American political system, its history, and how it works today. Such, too, is the stuff of fascism.

VIVA Victorious BART Workers! Their victory is a victory for all workers.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:39 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Unions are not powerless or struggling, except for their hopes to expand. Spending: Web Link

The usefulness of unions could be like buggy whips. There are numerous companies, from small to large, that are non-union with very happy employees who have no right, nor need, to strike.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:57 am

Kath is addicted to the same link. All it shows is that unions have political clout. That confirms my point.

Kath has yet to say what our political economy would look like without unions, or how otherwise to counterbalance the increasingly unmitigated power of corporations. True be told, she doesn't want to counterbalance corporate power. Rather, she wants to suck up to it in hopes that she's a better suck-up than most others.

Kath fails to admit that workers in non-unionized companies are relatively happy because they enjoy 40 hour week, child labor laws, nondiscrimination in the workplace, paid vacations, workplace safety -- all largely if not exclusively in place because of unions' gallant efforts to make these reality.

Are non-unionized workers 'very happy'? Kath's descriptor reveals her ignorance of workplace conditions existing in America and beyond. Why then are corporations spending millions of dollars annually to suppress employee votes for unions?

Fact is, with the exception of a few scab bootlickers, any reasonable person would much rather enjoy the benefits of unionization than going without.

"... very happy employees who have no right, nor need, to strike." What la-la land the fascists want us to believe in.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

I support of the union. I support a strike.

The strike will likely be next week. HAPPY TRAILS FOLKS!

I don't that there is anything wrong with asking for more money and better benefits.

Hi Ho
Hi Ho
It's off to strike we go!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Do the research, a well compensated employee who doesn't have to pay dues, support a union platform with money and time, and walk out on their job every few years is happier.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

Mike - The points that you are missing (deliberately?)in this discussion are whether or not the demands of this transit union are reasonable or not. When one talks about reasonableness, one should relate it to the rest of the surrounding society. Based upon the job qualifications for a BART transit operator, i.e. a candidate needs a high school diploma or GED, a valid California driver's license and three years of experience "interacting with the general public in a variety of ways," according to the posted job description, then what would be a reasonable benefit package? Current union workers make about $76,500 in gross pay on average, contribute nothing toward their pensions and $92 a month for health benefits. BART officials said they have now offered 8 percent over four years regardless of economic conditions. In exchange, they want employees to pay 5 percent of their pension costs (currently they pay nothing) and gradually move from paying a flat $92 for health care to 10 percent of the actual costs. The flat rate amounts to about 5 percent that would about double over four years to $184 or more, given the rate of increase in health care costs. However somehow this is not adequate according to the union propaganda. Keep in mind that the BART transit workers are already the highest paid in California.

Additionally, the BART union makes it impossible to train new transit operators by not allowing any training if a union worker is working. If management wanted to add more, it would have to put them through special training mandated under the union contract signed after the 1979 labor dispute. It's not that becoming a BART driver requires a lot of experience. The trains are automated, so operators drive them only during emergencies, and then only to speeds up to 25 mph. Operators also must pass a 15-week training course in safety practices. Under the agency's contract, however, anyone is barred from even taking the course as long as union BART operators are on the job. In other words, the only time BART can begin training replacement operators is when drivers go out on strike. In addition, BART needs to replace most of its rolling stock and has precious little money. In contrast to private enterprise that would save money for capital improvements, BART needs to do all it can to pay cash out of pocket because there's no routine reserve for capital equipment replacement reserve partially as a result of the current union contract.

Now let's talk about whether or not this union is out of control, and skip your usual "Trash talking"!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Web Link

"BART's total four-year proposal would cost the agency another $18.5 million. It includes 9 percent wage hikes and a 5 percent increase in employee pension contributions for current workers, while new employees would pay a slightly higher share.

"The rail line's two largest unions countered with a three-year deal totaling 21 percent pay bumps, including an 11.5 percent hike in the first year. Under the union's offer, any new pension contributions would be balanced out by corresponding wage increases, which would give employees a higher total pension once they retire. Their total contract, if extrapolated over four years for comparison purposes to BART's offer, would cost the rail line $117.8 million."


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

Dave, Beyond BART management-provided numbers, and your own repetitive (and usually badly articulated) rants against unions, you have nothing to say. Go read a book.

Both Dave and Kath, scab and suck-up, respectively, are happy to envision an American political economy without unions. They deny all the good that unions have produced -- minimum wage, relative freedom from certain kinds of workplace discrimination, 40 hour work week, maternity leave, noncompulsory overtime, among so many others -- and instead are happy to reduce American workers to mere widgets, buggy whips. Both Kath and Dave have deluded themselves into thinking that corporations will always have slots for the suck-up and scab. What they don't realize is that without unions, everyone will be forced to be either scab, suck-up, or both, and poorly paid to boot.

Without a full-fledged articulation of the kind of society one wants to live in, statements about the reasonableness or unreasonableness of strikes are meaningless. Dave can parrot his trumped up numbers and squawk about evil unions all he wants to; small-minded Kath can snipe here and snipe there with her noncontextualized snippets and irrelevant links all she wants. They are that, and nothing more.

One thing is for sure. If unions continue to be busted, if the right to strike is struck down, all those progressive pieces of legislation -- 40 hour work week, paid vacations, antidiscrimination laws, minimum wage -- will be pared away as corporations, now without effective opposition, will claim that they must cut back wages, cut back on workplace safety, suppress the right to grieve before an independent 3rd party, abolish minimum wage, eliminate maternity leave, lower the age work requirement, and so forth. Such is the logic of capital. Without unions, that logic will carry the day, and workers' voice will be treated about as seriously as buggy whips.

Ask the 1.2+ million American Walmart workers if they wouldn't rather be unionized. Ask the fast food workers of America -- averaging 27 years old and many trying to support families on minimum wage -- if they wouldn't rather be unionized. Ask BART workers if they'd rather not be unionized. The choice is clear enough: Stand as solidary workers or kneel down and kiss the boot of your employer.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"are happy to envision an American political economy without unions" Not true.

"a full-fledged articulation of the kind of society one wants to live in," Current one isn't all that bad, but I would ask that unions accept the correlation between what you do for a living and what you will earn.

"40 hour work week, paid vacations, antidiscrimination laws, minimum wage -- will be pared away" Assumption here is that non-union employees will let that happen. Not true. And BART isn't even working 40 hours.

"Ask the 1.2+ million American Walmart workers if they wouldn't rather be unionized" Only if they accept cannibalism, because job loss is always the cost. Bring in a union; maybe wages increase, but a new cost for the individual is incurred in union dues; and the increased cost to the company means loss in employee numbers and increased job responsibilities to fill the hole.

Never met a boot I would kiss. Never had a boss who turned a deaf ear either.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Kath says 'A', then denies it. Kath says 'B' then denies it. Let's guess what she really means. It's nonsense. Ungrounded little snipes without a coherent view, reflecting a poor understanding of America's political economy and its history. I'll not enter into a 'let's figure out what lil' ms. snippet really means.'

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Simple enough, what the unions are demanding of BART is outrageous.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Personal opinion from a corporate toady, nothing more.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Absolutely; it's personal opinion.

BART unions are among the "corporate toady" crowd because of the companies their pension invests in, including 5.375 million shares of Walmart. From Bloomberg today about pensions: Web Link

Posted by Genie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

umm, for $80k to $90k per year, sign me up for occasionally helping someone with the ticket vending machine but typically with attitude and only if I'm not going on another break. I'll even sweep up vomit and worse for that kind of pay plus overtime plus paid medical and pension. I have a four year degree, have technical training, and dont get that kind of salary and benefits. Salaries in this range of money are usually supposed to be tied to education, training and skill. Of course the mechanics and other skilled positions deserve more because they earn it. BART is not a social entitlement program.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm

You've stated the identical 'idea' using the moniker of 'guest' many days ago. You've figured out how to use the search engine that allows posters to post using multiple names. Congrats.

Your comments give testimony to the unfortunate pitfalls for some who hold a college degrees. Having one, as your comments amply testify, does not guarantee intelligence; nor does it guarantee that one is educated beyond the self-alleged degree.

Often in this society we sink or swim according to our talents, skills, and will to work harmoniously in a social setting. If your own experiences have you earning less than BART workers, this is likely because you exhibit substantial flaws that the typical BART worker does not have. Unfortunate but true, chump. And to suggest that we either sympathize with your plight or chastise workers who are clearly more talented than you are ... well, that's simply asking to much of us. Nice try, but your comments exude nothing but curmudgeonly envy and hatred. Sorry that college degree didn't work out for you. I doubt that anyone here is surprised. At all.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I'm wondering why Mike Cherry found it necessary to come up with a new alias, i.e. Shoogy and Claude-Bob on other postings. Do you think multiple names somehow strengthen your comments that have yet (on any post) been unable to support the current demands by the BART union?

Mike/Shoogy/Claude-Bob Still avoiding the issue of today!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It's important to know what you can earn based on those "talents, skills." BART unions have hit their limit. And there is no line for "works and plays well with others" that pays more than what one can actually provide in return via those talents and skills.

By the way, where is the evidence of "will to work harmoniously in a social setting" from the guy in this photo?
Web Link

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

What follows is an interesting little opinion piece by John Logan. It is pretty funny how all the anti-union zealots have gotten all lathered up about unions showing no regard for BART riders, but with nary a mention of BART management's disregard. Funny, too, how this view has been muted within the corporate media's faux coverage of the labor issue.

by John Logan, San Francisco State University

How did the BART dispute ever reach this point?

For several weeks now, BART 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. During several hours of testimony, union witnesses described in great detail BART management's "Comedy of Errors" bargaining style. If their account is accurate -- and BART did not dispute the specific allegations, though it did add a couple of its own -- this behavior provides almost a textbook example of 'surface bargaining,' i.e., going through the motions of negotiating with no intention of reaching an agreement. Without exception, moreover, union officials stated that this year's BART negotiations were not only the worst ever at BART, but the worst they had ever seen in several decades in the labor movement.

Rather than make a legitimate effort to negotiate a settlement, management has repeatedly employed delaying tactics; it started negotiations in mid-May, rather than in April, as the union had requested; it has engaged in the arbitrary scheduling of meetings; its chief negotiator Tom Hock was, incredibly, unavailable for one-third of the 30-day contract extension period after the July strike; and over the last weekend, management took almost 12 hours to respond to unions' pay and benefit proposal. During those critical final hours, management was, unbeknown to the unions, writing to the Governor to request a 60-day cooling off period, rather than attempting to reach a settlement.

While accusing the unions of excessive contract demands, BART management has made unreasonable and unrealistic bargaining demands of its own: its initial pay and benefits proposal would have meant a 12% cut in real terms for employees who have not had a raise for the past 4 years. At the tail end of bargaining over the weekend, the unions reported that management's last offer was worse than its previous one. Moreover, management has repeatedly negotiated through the media -- even continuing to do so during an agreed-upon gag order -- rather than bargain face-to-face with its unions.

But it doesn't need to be this way. It is instructive to compare the train wreck of contract negotiations at BART with the successful negotiations that just concluded at AC Transit, which involved similar pay and benefits challenges. Despite facing contentious issues, AC Transit management and its union reached an agreement without strikes, contract extensions or cooling-off periods. They sat down together, negotiated in good faith, and got the job done.

Contract negotiations are rarely easy -- especially in an environment of fiscal austerity -- but the AC Transit experience demonstrates that when management and workers are committed to an equitable and sustainable outcome, disparate interests can reach agreement through commonsense compromise. The fundamental obstacle to a similar outcome at BART is that management has neither negotiated in good faith nor shown a genuine desire to avoid a strike. Under the guidance of its chief negotiator Tom Hock -- who is notorious for driving down wages and benefits, as well as driving labor disputes to strikes -- management has steered negotiations almost unstoppably towards the current stalemate.

It's certainly possible that Governor Brown will seek a sixty-day cooling off period come Monday, but it should not have come to this. Settling this dispute will require flexibility and compromise on both sides. In order for that to happen, however, BART management must first end its media campaign, sit down with its unions, and negotiate in good faith.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Please see the other thread about negotiating in good faith.

"It is instructive to compare the train wreck of contract negotiations at BART with the successful negotiations that just concluded at AC Transit . . . " No mention that that union was ready to announce a strike. No mention that they settled for something like 9.75%. No mention that they make far less than their counterparts at BART.

"It's long been established that organized labor has an outsize influence in state politics. But the lack of political leadership during the BART negotiations shows it is not a two-way street: Elected officials are proving unwilling or unable to lea on the unions to reach a deal that would lift the strike threat." The rest of today's Chronical editorial is here: Web Link

I could also pull some material from CATO or the Public Service Research Foundation.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"lean" not lea

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2013 at 6:53 am

So, after I present an opinion piece that offers a different perspective, Kath offers a piece from the corporate media with a first sentence that refers to elected officials being unwilling/unable to lean on unions....

What about elected officials leaning on a management that's offering a joke of a contract that leaves BART workers in 2017 earning a lower wage than they did in 2008? No mention of that. But, of course, Kath doesn't take into consideration BART management's antics; there's never a management boot that she hasn't shown a willingness to give a lick.

Posted by Nomad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Mike Cherry - What you conveniently choose not to say, is the proposal is better than what the workers have today. The current contract reflects the economic reality since 2008. The current proposal to 2017 will have the workers better off than what they have now. An improvement, absolutely. Exactly what the workers want, no. Then again, isn't that how negotiations and bargaining play out? You, Mike, are being disingenuous and 'cherry' picking again.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Dave likes to sign in with a capital "D" as in Dave and "d" for dave...BUSTED! tee hee hee...another she signed in as "Buzzy
Bee..." BUSTED!


Cholo Mo-lo-lo

Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Cholo, cocktailing again?

Posted by Genie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Mr. Cherry, Most people who constantly over-use multi-syllabled words are transparent in their attempt to appear intelligent. And the power to the people and stick it to the man era ended a long time ago. Maybe you live in Berkeley, and have been attending classes for the past 45 years without ever graduating. Now that explains a lot about your protest mantra, conspiracy mentality, and need to verbally attack anyone who disagrees with the union position or you. But I must admit, I lied. I do make more $ than an average Bart employee and don't have a college degree.

Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

Okay, so Genii admits he's a liar. Next?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm

davida is Narcissistic...BUSTED! Everything is a slight, distorted, and tossed out in a rageful manner couched in mostly correct spelling. Extremely hostile to most folks except for those that do her bidding.

sad...very sad indeed...Axis II = Davida!

Posted by Light Brigade, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Whether you like it or not, whether you care to admit or not, the 1% have declared war on the 99%. We are under attack on every front. Unions and Union workers are a prime target in this war. Because Unions are the only organizations in this country that are capable of organizing people from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, cultures, religions for the single purpose of defending their rights. Unions also have a National and/or International reach. While most third party organizations are either local or irrelevant.

So it is vital for the 1%-ers to marginalize Unions. They've been at it for the past 30 years and they have honed their technique. In that context, the issue at BART, is about more than just raises, pensions and healthcare. It's a matter of principle. It is about sustained attacks on Unions and Union workers. It's about the 99% fighting back.

Whatever the outcome of the BART negotiations, it will have a direct effect on the rest of us. If they win their argument, it puts the rest of us, Union and non-Union alike, in a better position to demand better pay and better working conditions.

If the BART Unions are forced to take concessions it will embolden the 1%-ers and set a bad precedent. There are a number of negotiations coming up next year and they will be directly effected by it.

So BART workers deserve every ounce of support we can muster. They're standing up not just for themselves, but for all of us.

Please pass this on to at least five people especially those who might be affected by the strike. Many thanks. Armean

BART Strike!
It's the 1% vs the 99% … Again!

BART workers and their Unions are being forced into a strike which may take place as soon as Sunday at midnight. This will cause congestion on roadways and bridges of Bay Area. But while you're sitting in heavy traffic and stewing, don't curse the so called overpaid, lazy Union workers. Acquaint yourself with a few facts first. Of course you know, that you will not get actual facts from the corporate media, only melodrama!

Fact: For BART workers, a strike is a last resort. They are more than willing to sit down and negotiate. It is the Board of Directors who refuses to negotiate. The Board of directors has not made a new offer in the past two months.

Fact: Workers on strike do not get paid. Consequently they can not contribute to benefits such as healthcare. The Board and General Managers continue to get paid, regardless of how unwilling or incompetent they are at resolving labor issues.

Fact: BART's General Manager Grace Crunican sits on the Board of directors of the "Bay Area Council". A group of CEOs and managers dedicated to lowering wages and deteriorating working conditions for all workers. In short, to put profit before people.

Fact: BART Management has fired George Figueroa, the head of the strike team for ATU1555, in retaliation.

Fact: The Board has spent $400,000 to hire a consultant turned negotiator from a private corporation named Veolia Transportation Services. Thomas Hock was brought in through the back door in an underhanded way. He has a reputation for Union-busting. His general strategy is to push Unions into a strike, provoke public anger and frustration against them, forcing them into taking concessions and pay cuts. That is $400,000 not spent on safety measures and upgrades for the paying public.

Fact: The operations of AirBART, the shuttle service between BART's Coliseum/Airport station and Oakland Airport has already been contracted out to Veolia Transportation Services. AirBART tickets are $3.00 per person. AC Transit Bus #73 to the Airport costs $2.10.

Fact: The highest paid BART worker was not a worker at all. She was BART's former
General Manager, Dorothy Dugger who received a salary of $419,000 without doing a single day's work in 2012. That is on top of $920,000 she was given by BART's Board of Directors and the $181,000 pension she draws. SHE IS NON-UNION!

Fact: After retirement, BART workers must live on pension alone. They will not be eligible for Social Security. The average public worker's pension in California is $25,000 a year. Hardly a King's ransom.

Fact: In 2009 BART's Board of directors lied to the workers and misled them into signing away $100,000,000 in benefits and pay. BART workers have not had a raise in four years. BART's latest offer is tantamount to a pay cut not a raise. Unions are asking for an actual raise. Not an imaginary one.

Fact: Part of the concessions the unions made in 2009 was a hiring freeze, that has been in effect for the past four years. Consequently, a great number of BART workers have been shorthanded and have had to put in unreasonable amounts of overtime to keep BART running. The Management and the Board, in a shameless Machiavellian maneuver have factored those overtime payments into the salary of BART workers in order to exaggerate and inflate the numbers and demonize the workers in the eyes of the public. And to pit worker against worker, those who use BART against those who provide the services.

The local media keeps regurgitating these figures without fact-checking or questioning them. Ironically both NY Times and The Nation put the average pay for BART workers up to $15,000 below what the local papers consistently claim.

The overtimes were caused by the arrogance and mismanagement of the Board. If they did not deceive the Unions and did not insist on a hiring freeze, they could have offered more job opportunities to the local communities, put more money into the local economies and the existing BART workers could have gone home and spent more time with their families.

The Management also neglects to mention that they themselves enjoy the most expensive and wasteful benefits. Free laptops, free Blackberrys, free Travel, wining, dining and general boondoggling at the expense of the taxpayers.

Fact: The Management also double counts vacations. One assumes that vacations are included in the base salary. But at BART, due to more creative accounting, it is calculated separately and added on as a "benefit".

Fact: Since 2009, BART employee injuries have risen by 43%. In the past year alone the assault on station agents has risen from 9% to 31%. This statistic includes homicide and rape. Workers are asking for safety measures such as more, better lighting and installation of bullet proof glass. Yet the BART Board of directors refuses to spend a single penny to ensure the survival of its workers and the safety of the public.

Fact: BART revenues have risen to above 718,000,000. Its sales tax revenue has jumped to 207,000,000. (Yes that's money coming out of your pocket) It currently has 125,000,000 in surplus. Yet the Board is unwilling to spend a penny of it in the community or for the community.

The privatization sharks have smelled surplus and are circling. Some Union activists believe that the marginalization of Unions and workers is a step towards future privatization of BART.

Many fear the implementation of the "Wisconsin" labor practices. Governor Brown by his unnecessary involvement has signaled that he will ride the wave of public anger and frustration to introduce legislation which will forbid public workers from going on strike. Such legislations already exist in 35 other states. Workers who defy the law and go on strike can be fined or spend up to one year in prison. In California the only state law prohibiting public workers from striking applies to Firefighters. In the city of San Francisco public workers including Muni are prohibited to strike.

So you see, the future Gridlocks have been brought to you by the members of the BART's Board of Directors.
The six figure 1%-ers!
Not the five figure 99%, working stiffs like you.

Be sure to fully express your gratitude next election year.
Send your "love" to:

Gail Murray, Joel Keller, Rebecca Saltzman, Robert Raburn
John McPartland, Thomas Blalock, Zakhary Mallett
James Fang. Tom Radulovich

And let's not forget the General Manager, the lovely Ms. Crunican: The woman who speaks with a forked tongue.

While us working class people keep our tongues firmly imbedded in our cheeks!

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I will agree that it is the 1% vs. the 99%. The 1% are the union employees who are threatening the 99% who pay the taxes and pay the bart fares.

This has nothing to do with equality of workers. The bart workers receive a higher compensation and benefit than they should. Raising their salaries mean that there is less money in purchasing the needed equipment that the bart patrons expect they are contributing towards. It is not the wealthy that will be affected at all. It will affect the average bart rider. Their fares will either have to go up (which reduces their take home pay) or the system will have to continue with the failing equipment.

Public transportation has become a critical infrastructure in the bay area. The local legislators are making it more so by requiring transit-oriented development near the bart stations. It is not right that the workers should be able to strike and completely disrupt the live of people and make it almost impossible for some of them to get to work so they can make a living.

Once again, it is the 1% vs. the 99%. The 1% are the bard workers. The 99% are the bart riders who need to get to work.