Lessons of the BART standoff

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EDITORIAL BART and its unions reached a tentative deal on new contracts late Monday (10/21) night, the next day restoring service that had been disrupted by the second four-day strike this year. Now, it's time for everyone to move on from this impasse — and the ugly demonization of workers that accompanied it — and try to heal the damage that was done.

Sadly, it appears to have taken the senseless deaths of two BART employees on Oct. 19 to reinforce the safety concerns that unions have raised from the beginning, undermine critics' belittling claims that "the trains run themselves" and don't need trained workers, and back the district down from its aggressive brinksmanship and preparations to run limited service during what could have been a long strike.

There are still many questions to be answered. Was the district forcing a strike with its "final offer" and last minute decision to seek more authority over work rules? Would it really have offered service to the public using scab drivers? Was the driver training that was happening on that ill-fated train a factor in the tragedy?

We may not have a definitive answer to that last question for quite awhile, but we already learned from the NTSB that BART officials were deceiving the general public when they claimed the train was simply on a maintenance run to remove graffiti and when they offered misleading answers to the Guardian's direct questions about whether driver training was being done.

Unfortunately, that was just the latest example of a pattern of behavior unbefitting of officials in a public agency. It began with the decision to pay almost $400,000 to a notoriously anti-union contract negotiator. It continued through stall tactics and an aggressive public relations strategy. And it culminated with seeking sweeping authority over work rules at the 11th hour and following up with training new drivers as soon as a strike was underway, apparently hoping to run enough service that the unions would be forced to accept a bad contract.

None of that should have happened, and it was only possible because the financially healthy district played off of the conservative campaigns against public employee unions of recent years to undermine the public image of their workers and deny them reasonable raises and safety improvements.

The media is also culpable, particularly the editorial writers at the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area News Group, which ran vitriolic and false rants condemning workers and unions, even supporting Republican calls to outlaw strikes by transportation workers.

Only in the funhouse mirror they created was it possible to credibly push the ridiculous claim that unions were striking because they were afraid of using email. It's not necessary to dehumanize and demean our adversaries. We in the progressive Bay Area are better than that, and maybe now we can act like it.

Comments

what you have just said is essentially complete bullshit

there are no waiting lists for immediately necessary health care

Posted by vkd on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Meanwhile in the US, everyone with insurance can always be seen by their providers upon request, in real time.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 6:53 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

The PPO authorizes payment for self referrals to providers within their network. After a while, there is little difference between an HMO like Brown and Toland and a PPO, once you establish a relationship with a primary physician and get your referrals. They last forever.

The problem, of course, is getting an appointment in real time. That means de-facto waiting lists. It is a real crap shoot. Sometimes you can get in on the same day or within a few. Other times it can take six weeks to get an appointment. Most of the time it is something in between.

There are wait lists here, they're just called long waits for appointments.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

I can see any doctor, altho the percentage cover is higher for in-network docs.

Even so, no problem seeing any doc plus no problem making appointments.

Maybe you have some special issues?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

I've got awesome insurance, but it is HMO so I have to seek a referral through my primary. Once referred, the cost is only $25/visit. I think that my coverage is better than yours. My primary has never denied a request for a referral to specialists, including some of the "best in their field" in the City.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

Let's make Lilli a serf, just like the doctors!

You work when the government tells you to work, you'll get paid what the government chooses to pay you, and you will like it, peasant!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 4:32 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

It worked great!

Posted by Eric Lilliracer on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

where they have better health care outcomes than we do (especially in early childhood)

it is safe to say that it works

Posted by vlkjl on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

If anything, the rise of finance to dominate the economy threatens citizens with serfdom more than anything that the Eastern European Socialist regimes could imagine.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

This is a howler even for you

Posted by Eric Lilliracer on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

what a powerful argument you have there

care to elaborate with some actual details that prove why marcos' statement is "a howler"?

my guess is that you don't have a basic junior high school grasp of economics, let alone the ability to debate the impacts of the unprecedented exponential invasion of pure un-anchored finance to dangerously underpin the entirety of the global economy and money creation in the last few decades

if, as i suspect, you are incapable of thinking your way out of a wet paper sack

just respond with another vague insult

Posted by vlk on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Your idea is nothing more than the already discreditted Tax, borrow, spend and over-regulate polices that the people routinely reject.

You clearly hate America and should leave. Even the Dem's rejected the so-called public option. The bill would have been astronomical.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by vkdj on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by vkdj on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

Being on the tail end of the boomer generation, I really hope that the most entitled generation to ever walk the planet starts to complain and moan and exacts change a few years before I need it. This would begin to make up for them foisting Reagan on us.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 11:22 am

Must be that million dollar condo you are sitting pretty on.

If your social security fails before you start drawing on it, you can just sell your condo. It's not like you can have kids to pass it onto.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

Burnt out on missionlocal.org?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

But then, what else do you have to do with your time?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

debate with someone who has no political experience at all.

Says a lot about how far Marc's political star has fallen. He resorts to spats and flames on anonymous internet blogs.

Posted by anon on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

File under "troll conventions when they're losing an argument."

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

That shows how much you have pissed everyone off with your pomposity.

Posted by anon on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

marcos have better things to do with our time than intervene in a recurring flame way between Johnanon and marcos.

I hope you have enough self-restraint not to ruin the mission local comment pages now that you are obsessively posting there. I doubt it though.

How many times do you have to justify the Ellis Act, refer to working people as losers, or label people who oppose gentrifying development as "far left" idolizers of people and groups you don't like?

Tiresome.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

How's it hanging?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

"It's not necessary to dehumanize and demean our adversaries. We in the progressive Bay Area are better than that, and maybe now we can act like it."

Was this really just printed by the SFBG?? The entity that belittles and demeans every tech worker in the city by painting all of them with the same ugly brush?

holy cow, I'd have spit my coffee all over the screen if I'd been drinking any.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by dlkgf on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

you are evil. But if you are a public worker consuming our taxes and organizing into unions to get the best possible deal on the public dime, then you are a hero.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

I have no problems with being a "wealth creator" (a strange term, but I'll play along), but I take issue with those who derive their wealth from exploiting natural or human resources and then use their wealth and power to avoid paying their fair share toward our collective obligations, such as funding our government, ensuring that we aren't stealing resources from future generations, seeing to the needs of the natural world, and protecting our political system from corruption. In each of these areas, many of the greedy "wealth creators" in the US right now are failing in huge and obvious ways, and for that they have earned our scorn.

Posted by steven on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

There are only two types of Americans:

1) Those who create wealth, and who are taxed, which goes to fund public services

2) Those who consume wealth and taxes i.e. government workers and welfare recipients, AKA Romney's 47%.

#2 act like #1 are evil, but of course cannot survive without them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

turn those things into valuable products and services

are the wealth creators

and they should be compensated accordingly

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

They certainly create wealth.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

not the companies (which are balance sheets on hard drives)

just the miners

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

necessarily produce anything physical.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

Goldman Sachs added to the DJIA...

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 11:20 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

There are 2 kinds of people

Those who divide the world into 2 kinds of people

And those who don't.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

It's not true that we demean every tech worker. Go back and read our stories and you'll see that our criticism is directed at the industry and its leadership, not the individual workers. And even our criticism of the industry is based on specific decisions it is making, or that politicians are making to serve the desires of this industry at the expense of other city residents, which are legitimate targets for criticism and not akin to the broad brush bashing of workers that we've seen in the BART strike. Even in my sometimes rather harsh criticism of Mayor Lee, I focus on the decisions that he's making and don't dehumanize him or demean him as person.

Posted by steven on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

Mission, for driving up rents and for taking shuttle buses to work.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

elected democrats were behind the scenes harassing BART directors at the behest of the unions, but it's bad that people not agreeing with the unions got involved in the strike.

What one learns reading the Bay Guardian.

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 27, 2013 @ 3:54 am

Lesson One: Strikes work.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 11:20 am

The workers now pay towards their pensions, which was a major goal of the management.

And two workers are dead.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

there have been many deaths along the way

unfortunately this is an inevitable part of the struggle

in the end we achieve a greater good for a greater number of people

Posted by vlojdog on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

and they were significantly against the union here, which is a big part of why they conceded on healthcare, pensions and working practices.

Posted by anon on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

that people who get their news from mainstream media naively oppose strikes like this

if they knew how much they personally benefit from unionization, and worker strikes, they would feel differently

Posted by vlkjdi on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

In fact, insofar as they affect the value of my stock portfolio, they cost me money.

Most ordinary working people I know have no support for a dated concept like unions, and oppose the greed of the BART workers.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

help from unionized cops when one of your lessers jacks you of something valuable to sell for food because he is so deperate from the neoliberal austerity discipline you imposed on him.

Or help from the unionized firefighters when the bullshit you dispense combusts with the hot air you spew to ignite some of your vast real estate holdings. Maybe that's what happened on Valencia today?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

I'd happily contract with private non-union public safety enterprises if they were allowed to compete, and if I could get a break on my taxes.

My assertion stands as stated.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2013 @ 6:00 am

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