The Bay Area Rapid Transit Strike

Okay, here is the low-down on that BART strike that made it so hard for some SF partygoers over Gay Pride Weekend to get back home to Fresno Monday. Hard? They were in fact stuck.
1. It is true: the unions are asking for a 23% wage and salary increase. Why, because that is how much the cost of living has gone up just during the statewide wage freeze called on account of the state budget crisis. Must be true, because in my own life I found myself going from having spending money and moving out to having to move back home, cancel my smart phone, cancel my satellite TV, cut back on going out. Even the doubling of a coffee machine cup of coffee from 10¢ to 20¢ hit hard. Also, healthcare costs more than doubled. The copays had gone up so much, I spent $70 one day just on copays – to take care of a sinus infection.
2. BART engineers and mechanics make $50-70 grand a year. It would be very hard to get a Fresnan to comprehend a 23% wage increase on top of what sounds like to us back here big ass money. But cost of living is far higher in the Bay Area. As I illustrated above, everybody in this valley has been suffering and cutting back. People here don’t remember what the heck a cost of living increase is. When somebody asks for pay to keep up with cost of living, they are asking for what sounds like, and is, a very large raise.
3. But as crazily well-off these BART employees sound to us Fresnans, we ought to back them up. They are right – the cost of living increase needs to come back, or nobody will be able to commit to anything anymore – a new house, a new car. But most of all, increased wages are a good thing. Union victories lead to higher wages, even for everyone else. Union defeats just encourage a downward spiral of cost cutting.
4. The strikers are making safety demands. Come to think of it, I don’t like how unsafe BART has gotten. As a rider, I find myself keenly interested in the safety improvement demands.

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