Friday, August 14, 2009

No Sympathy for BART Workers

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 10:55 AM

BART train operators and station agents appear to have made a serious error by declaring a strike for Monday morning. The union likely will receive no sympathy from the public, and instead appears to be fomenting widespread anger and outrage. And for good reason. By going on strike, BART workers will cripple the Bay Area's transportation network, making the lives of millions of innocent people miserable, forcing both BART riders and freeway commuters into nightmarish traffic jams once the trains stop working. The strike also will cause billions of dollars in lost productivity to Bay Area businesses, as their employees idle on the freeways unable to get to work. And, oh yeah, don't forget that all the traffic caused by the strike will significantly worsen the region's air pollution and add untold tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

And none of it has to happen. Yet it appears it will because of greed. We're in the middle of a deep recession, the worst downturn since the Great Depression, and most of us have suffered plenty. Unemployment is at record levels, wages have dropped significantly, and workloads have increased across-the-board as businesses try to make do with less. Yet BART train operators and station agents think they should be immunized from these problems and plan to force the rest of us who are already suffering to suffer more so they can get their way. Spoiled children is the only way to describe it.

There's going to be a lot of anger and frustration in the coming days and weeks. But there's only one way to make sure that BART train operators and station agents never hold the Bay Area hostage again. The BART board needs to stick to its guns and force the union to abandon the strike. It's going to be tough - there will be a lot of pressure applied to give the union what it wants so that the trains will start moving again and our lives can return to normal. But if the board gives into that pressure and capitulates, it'll prove once again to the union that it can get its way anytime it wants by hurting innocent people.

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