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California | Labor & Workers

Unions prepare sell-out of Bay Area, California transit strike
by World Socialist Website (Repost)
Monday Oct 21st, 2013 11:25 PM
* The agreement being worked out accepts all of the basic demands of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) management, including major concessions in pensions, health care and work rules.

* The ruling class is seeking to make an example of the transit workers as part of its efforts throughout the state and across the country to slash wages, benefits and working conditions.

* Workers should reject the agreement prepared by the unions, BART management and the corporate and political establishment in California.
Unions prepare sell-out of Bay Area, California transit strike
By Joseph Kishore
22 October 2013

Unions and management were involved in negotiations late into the evening Monday in an effort to quickly end the strike by 2,300 transit workers in Northern California. The agreement being worked out accepts all of the basic demands of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) management, including major concessions in pensions, health care and work rules.

The strike by BART workers, which began on Friday, has given expression both to the growing opposition among workers to ceaseless demands for cuts and givebacks and the social power of the working class. The strike shut down the fifth-largest public transit system in the country, crippling transportation throughout the region.

The political establishment in the Bay Area, both Democratic and Republican, has responded with a ferocious campaign launched in coordination with the media, including public discussion of proposals to outlaw strikes altogether. The ruling class is seeking to make an example of the transit workers as part of its efforts throughout the state and across the country to slash wages, benefits and working conditions.

The ruthlessness of management came to a head on Saturday, when two workers were killed by a train that was being used to prepare replacement workers in the event of a prolonged strike. While BART management initially claimed the train was being moved for maintenance purposes, the head of a federal investigation into the accident confirmed on Sunday that it was in fact being operated by an uncertified trainee.

The unions—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)—have collaborated with management and the state in seeking to impose a concessions contract on transit workers. Even before the strike was called on Friday, the unions had agreed to most of the framework proposed by management. This included increased worker contributions to pensions and health care, along with nominal wage increases that barely keep pace with inflation. In 2009, the unions pushed through a contract that included $100 million in concessions.

When the BART contract ended in July, the unions called a strike and then called it off after only four days, without any change in management’s position. This was followed by a three-month no-strike period imposed by California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, and the courts.

The unions called the second strike with the aim of letting off steam and dissipating the workers’ anger, the better to push through a sell-out contract. They responded to the deaths of the two workers Saturday by avoiding any suggestion that management was to blame while intensifying efforts to call off the strike.

The meetings on Monday between the unions and management included federal mediator Greg Lim. The San Francisco Chronicle cited a source close to the talks as saying that the two parties involved were only a “half-inch apart” on Monday.

Before negotiations had ended last Thursday night, the unions had offered to accept BART’s economic demands and send the question of work rules to binding arbitration.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the unions have agreed to most of management’s demands on work rules as well. “On Sunday evening,” the newspaper reported, “the unions released a proposal that offered to end the dispute by modifying contract language that BART contends has prevented technological advances and enshrined inefficiencies. The union offer proposed to allow for work-rule changes regarding technology but retain rules on safety.”

Workers should reject the agreement prepared by the unions, BART management and the corporate and political establishment in California. In order to carry the struggle forward, the strike must be taken out of the hands of the unions through the formation of independent rank-and-file committees. An appeal must be made to workers throughout the region for a common struggle against the dictates of the corporate and financial elite and the politicians of both big business parties.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by (Repost)
Monday Oct 21st, 2013 11:54 PM
1. Replacement worker was driving train that killed two workers during California transit strike

* Revelations directly contradict the initial claims from BART management.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/10/22/bar2-o22.html

2. California Bay Area transit workers speak out on strike

* A team of WSWS reporters spoke to striking transit workers on the picket lines. Like earlier interviewees, workers asked to remain anonymous in order to avoid reprisals from union officials.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/10/22/inte-o22.html
by The working class
Tuesday Oct 22nd, 2013 8:11 AM
The VAST MAJORITY of people who use BART make maybe half , with most lucky to make a third, of what the BART employees make. How dare you make us the outraged and suffering out to be the villains in this. BART employees make a disgusting amount of money plus a benefits package rarely seen anywhere anymore. They only paid 5% of their medical before this contract and had a free pension. Free. Pensions don’t exist anymore and for good reason. They are unreasonable and unsupportable. If you’ve paid attention to anything outside your precious bubble they have been driving companies and cities into bankruptcy. Asking the employees to contribute into it rather than just cutting it off is rather generous as is only asking them to contribute the pittance they do for their medical. Getting rid of work rules that are ridiculous, archaic, and unreasonable is only right. Welcome to the real world and say goodbye to the ability to ever hold the public hostage again with a strike. It’s going to be gone either by legislation or a ballot measure.
by Know your facts
Tuesday Oct 22nd, 2013 8:16 AM
Jerry Brown used a sixty day cooling period in whic neither side got together until the end of it. the union and it's membership sat on their hands waiting until the last minute as usual to discuss the contract thereby putting themselves back in a bad spot again. BART management wasn't much better but both sides play this game of chicken using the riders as hostages.
by Workers Revolution
Tuesday Oct 22nd, 2013 4:33 PM
The crisis of leadership in the working-class was on display for everyone to see in this BART struggle. The leadership of the unions are all connected at the hip to the bosses Democratic Party and did not want a strike nor could they lead one (except to defeat). Rather then spread the strike to alternative means of transport in the Bay (ferries, AC Transit, MUNI, Sam Trans), all unionized work forces, the instructed the ranks to picket where told and don't make any waves. Hell the union doesn't even have a strike fund which would mean the workers would be hurting real bad after a few weeks out. If the strike had have spread to the other unionized public transport workers, all of whom have many beefs against their respective management, the Montgomery Street bankers and stock speculators, real estate theives, hotel and restaturant owners, and other capitalist interests would have been on their knees begging the workers to go back and would have given them everything they demanded.

Without a political party of the working class that will struggle for the workers and all of the oppressed populations interests we are under the boot of the greedy capitalist who have "redistributed" (stolen) $trillions from the world's workers and poor and put it their pockets. This "The working class" poster, whose ego is a lot bigger then his brains, would have us believe that what the BART workers did was criminal and that he and the working class are "outraged and suffering." I was on a few of the BART picket lines and heard more support then outrage but then this poster has either drank the bosses kool aid or is a purveyor of it. Read a bit of history and you will find that for decades the major bosses media has considered all the workers overpaid and underworked. They don't want Social Securtiy and Meidcare but would rather all the workers go withou pensions and die or spend their own money to keep from dying rather then have the bosses pay any of their profits for such care. If the rest of the workers are not making as much money as the BART workers maybe they need a union so they do and i would be the first to admit that we need to organize the unorganized so we can begin to fulfill that need. Only a break from the parties of capitalism and the forging of a fighting workers party to lead that struggle will bring success and we can bring "The working class" down to earth.
by Reposter
Wednesday Oct 23rd, 2013 2:03 AM
Thank you for your salient comment, Retired Union Worker.

I encourage people to read The World Socialist Website.

Capitalism cannot be reformed, it must be replaced with Socialism.
by Socialist and Anti-Nuclear Power
Wednesday Oct 23rd, 2013 9:18 PM
All of the original article (except the 3 month instead of 2 month injunction) is true, says this socialist. It is also true that the World Socialist Website supports nuclear power and thus is very anti-socialist as you cannot be a socialist and support nuclear power. See
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/03/pers-m24.html

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/03/lett-m26.html

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/04/pers-a12.html

All 3 of the above pro-nuclear articles concern the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Here is an update on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, stating the West Coast of the US is being "fried" by Fukushima's nuclear waste being spilled into the ocean and air, and it is spreading across the US and up the food chain.

From:
"28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima" by Michael Snyder, 10/23/13 at
http://www.globalresearch.ca/28-signs-that-the-west-coast-is-being-absolutely-fried-with-nuclear-radiation-from-fukushima/5355280
1. Polar bears, seals and walruses along the Alaska coastline are suffering from fur loss and open sores…
2. There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the California coastline
3. Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low.
4. Something is causing fish all along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

5. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast.

6. It is being projected that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the U.S. west coast could double over the next five to six years.

7. Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.

8. One test in California found that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima.

9. Back in 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137 was being found in a very high percentage of the fish that Japan was selling to Canada…

• 73 percent of mackerel tested

• 91 percent of the halibut

• 92 percent of the sardines

• 93 percent of the tuna and eel

• 94 percent of the cod and anchovies

• 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish
[and more with a video telling even more]

The World Socialist Website should change its name to the pro-nuclear nuts. All of this fretting about the right strategy for a labor victory rings hollow in the face of a nuclear disaster right outside our homes here on the West Coast. For the young, who are the most adversely affected by radiation, there is no time to waste. The demand that nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons be abolished immediately must be made loudly and clearly, everywhere by everyone who cares about the workingclass and Planet Earth as serious socialists do, at the same time we demand a serious winning strategy for labor.
by Socialist & Anti-Nuclear Power
Thursday Oct 24th, 2013 5:39 AM
From July to October was 3 months. However, the injunction was for 60 days from August to October. The unions were going to strike in August, 30 days after their July strike. See
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?id=9202542. The August 11, 2013 court order is at http://dig.abclocal.go.com/kgo/PDF/BARTOrder.pdf The rest of the article is garbage. A degreed electrical engineer is making a lousy $55,000 a year and trying to support 4 people on that. He says he takes from his savings to make ends meet. Soon he will be going to food banks. You need $120,000 a year to support 4 people. See the labor video at
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/23/18745281.php

Also, BART workers do not receive Social Security. Workers who do not receive Social Security certainly do receive pensions. This is true for teachers in California and many other states. No one should have to pay anything for medical. The new contract gives a raise of about 3% per year over 4 years, which is less than the new pension and medical payments the workers must make, thus they lose money with this new contract. Work rules are always part of a union contract. The primary work rule that is needed is to require a warning that a train is coming to people working on the track so we do not have BART's murder machine in operation as happened last Saturday, when 2 people were killed. The entire BART Board of Directors, mostly Democrats, should be arrested and charged with murder. Since a worker was killed by a train 5 years ago in almost the same place, this is pre-meditated, first degree murder.
by Reposter
Friday Oct 25th, 2013 12:12 PM
It is a shame that someone in the comments attempts to divert attention from the topics of the posted article.

It is a slur to label the World Socialist Website as being pro-Nuclear Power. It is neither "pro-" or "anti-" nuclear in the broadest sense.

The website is anti-capitalism and pro-socialism.

The World Socialist Website is a consistent advocate of socialism which addresses human needs not the profit system.

What the World Socialist Website consistently does is to point out how capitalism is the source of man-made environmental catastrophes and risk.

What the website consistently addresses is the futility of identity-driven protests aimed at reform of capitalism. They are doomed to ultimate failure-- unless they can spark a consensus to fight capitalism.

Unless our struggle targets the capitalist system itself, we well-intentioned activists are divided to be picked off by powerful interests. The ruling class will not reform but will only react with greater and greater force. The best reform-minded activists can hope for are token victories which will later be erased-- unless again, we can direct a struggle against the capitalist system.

If one cares about the health of the planet, including the incontestable dangers of nuclear weapons and risks of nuclear power, it is incumbent to go further than playing the illusory game of writing your congressperson who works for the rich, or asking businesses to be more responsible. One must renounce capitalism and organize to see it's worldwide defeat.

I encourage more people to read the World Socialist Website more regularly to better understand how "reform"-minded activists routinely sabotage true reform by directing their energies to shepherding dissent into (usually) supporting the capitalist two-party system in lesser and greater ways.

The proof of their sort of activism, which is marked by the telling of elaborate half-truths (who routinely provide us a compass with no needle), can be measured by increasing wars, growing world poverty, a growing police state (fascism), and events such as the catastrophe at Fukishima.

I encourage more people to read the World Socialist Website to become better educated about the historical task before us all if we are to really create a healthier more humane and just world.
by Socialist & Anti-Nuclear Power
Saturday Oct 26th, 2013 7:32 PM
You cannot claim to be socialist and support nuclear power. It is directly on point. You give yourself free advertising on this website in an area that is being fried by the nuclear waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a problem that will surpass all other problems. This writer was reading the World "Socialist" Website since its inception until Fukushima and is a socialist all my life, over 60 years. When I saw your support of nuclear power, that ended my interest in your website as you are an insult to all socialists. I was being polite in referring to you as pro-nuclear nuts. The only political force that supports nuclear power is the capitalist class, and its mouthpiece, the American government.