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Thursday, August 13, 2009 11:22 PM

Bay Area Rapid Transit Union Sets Strike Over Pension Benefits

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San Francisco commuters may be in for a rough week as the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) transit union has voted to go on strike in a wage and benefits dispute.

The San Francisco Chronicle picks up the story in BART sets strike for midnight Sunday.

BART workers will strike beginning at midnight Sunday, the union that represents train operators and station agents announced this afternoon. The union made the announcement after the BART board of directors voted unanimously today to immediately impose work rules on the 900-member Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.

BART's daily ridership averages about 340,000 and those passengers will need to find a new mode of transportation come Monday morning.

BART's board of directors expressed remorse that they had to unilaterally impose a new contract, which would give management the ability to impose new work rules and would require members of the ATU to pay into their own retirement system, which would equate to about 7 percent of their salary.

BART faces a projected $310 million deficit over the next four years, and management wanted to cut labor costs by $100 million over that period to help balance the budget. The agency raised fares and cut service starting July 1.
Management Overly Generous

Starting Monday, assuming a contract agreement is not worked out, commuters could be in for a rough week. However, that is better than giving into the ATU and having fares skyrocket.

Management was overly generous as it is, asking the union to pick up less than 1/3 of the projected shortfall. Why shouldn't it be 2/3, 3/4 or all of it?

Proud To Be ATU

Inquiring minds are looking into the ATU Amalgamated Transit Union.

The ATU is the largest transit union in North America. ATU transit and allied trade members enjoy the highest wages and benefits in the industry. We are leaders in the fight to ensure safety in mass transit. And we work hard to improve service to our riders. We're proud to be ATU.

At a time most of the rest of the country is suffering and has no pension plan at all, the ATU with the highest wages and benefits in the industry is demanding more.

PATCO Revisited

The best thing for San Francisco commuters is if every one of the union workers never works another day for BART in a Ronald Reagan vs. PATCO type of decision.
On August 3, 1981 the [PATCO - Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization] union declared a strike, seeking better working conditions, better pay and a 32-hour workweek. In doing so, the union violated a law {5 U.S.C. (Supp. III 1956) 118p.} that banned strikes by government unions.

Ronald Reagan, declared the PATCO strike a "peril to national safety" and ordered them back to work under the terms of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Only 1,300 of the nearly 13,000 controllers returned to work.

Subsequently, Reagan demanded those remaining on strike return to work within 48 hours, otherwise their jobs would be forfeited.

On August 5, following the PATCO workers refusal to return to work Reagan fired the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order. The union was decertified on October 22, 1981.
More government unions need to be dissolved, 100% of them to be precise. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 is a good place to start.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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