[For those of you not from around here, BART is a shiny silver people mover that goes all around the Yay Area and even to places I've heard about but never visited, like something called "El Cerrito del Norte." I use it to get to work every day and sometimes to go to Stephen and Jessica's house in Berkeley. Lots of people need it to get from their houses in the East Bay to their jobs in SF.]
From what I can tell, public sentiment is pretty strongly against the union; check out the comments here. And why not? The contract the employees turned down would "freeze wages for four years but provide bonuses in three of those years, change work rules to give bosses more say in employees' job duties, reduce the need for overtime, and require employees to pay more for premium health care."
You can imagine how the employees turning this down goes over with someone who, like me, just took a pay cut, or someone who lost their job entirely. BRIGHT SIDE: If you're unemployed, you won't have to figure out another way to get to work!
So yes, I think it's a mistake and obviously a public relations disaster for the union and is only going to lower people's already-low opinion of unions these days.
But just to be a contrarian, remember this story from a few weeks ago?
As BART careens towards a possible strike, a KTVU Channel 2 News investigation has found the transit district’s management has spent millions of dollars on trips around the world and the nation and lavish meals at extravagant restaurants.
One expert told KTVU that the system's tracking of those expenses is the equivalent of throwing receipts in a cigar box.
I want to be BART management! Check out what they get:
- A $2,700 tab at Gallagher’s Steak House on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one of the most expensive steakhouses in the nation. The meal was for 10 BART managers – at $270 a meal – and had no itemized receipt, a violation of BART’s official policy.
- A $751.40 bill for some BART employees, directors – and director’s wives – at a Georgetown restaurant dubbed the “power spot of the year.” The Café Milano bill included wine and even cognac, again against BART’s official policy.
- A $699.51 bill at the University Club, also on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The men’s only organization is akin to San Francisco’s Pacific Union Club, except it is exclusively for invited graduates of Yale University. The meal was said to be a “thank you” to employees of the New York City subway, who gave BART managers a “tour.” Again, no itemized receipt was provided, although as with all the other expenses, BART reimbursed the tab with taxpayer and fare gate money.
So, yeah, I completely agree that the union should have accepted the contract and that most BART employees get a sweet deal and are fools to look a gift horse in the mouth. Just saying that management doesn't look to be exactly blame-free for the BART deficit either.
Moral of the story: everyone sucks. But we knew that.