Tag Archives: public transportation

Collateral Damage

Grant Bonham is a sophomore economics major.
Grant Bonham is a sophomore economics major.

If you are planning on riding the 14L bus this week, keep your eyes open for the newest ad taken out by Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defence Initiative. In response to the recent Islamophobia surrounding ISIS, Geller depicts Muslims as a radical group of extremists showing how one’s devotion can only be measured by their radical acts of aggression. Geller’s ad deserves the triple crown for not only being polarizing, but also for being uninformed and mistargeted as well.  Continue reading Collateral Damage

BART Strike Impedes Transportation for USF Community

For the second time in three months, BART’s union workers, which includes train operators and station agents, went on strike last Friday, leaving the railroad’s reportedly 500,000 daily commuters without transportation.

USF students and staff that commute from other parts of the Bay Area were affected by the railroad shut down after BART management and union leaders were unable to reach a compromise Thursday afternoon.

Christina Goultas, senior exercise and sports science major commutes to USF from San Mateo. She doesn’t take BART herself, but was still affected by the strike. Goultas drives to school, but was late for class because traffic was so backed up on the 280 freeway leading to the Bay Bridge.

“I understand that the BART workers need to voice their opinions,” said Goultas, “but I think they need to be more considerate of all the riders and commuters in the Bay Area who need to adjust their schedule to cope with the strike.”

After BART went on strike in August, Governor Jerry Brown imposed a 60-day “cooling off ” period. After the 60 days ended, negotiations between union workers and BART management continued, but as the workers neglected to operate the train, commuters remain unsure when it will start running again.
First year law student Miles Maurino, whose weekend plans were affected by the BART strike notes, “The California Chamber of Commerce reports that the Bay Area loses $70 million in productivity each day the BART is on strike. For the BART employees to claim that their already high salary is not justified is completely unwarranted by the circumstances,” said Maurino.Much of the controversy is over the worker’s wages. The average base salary for full time station agents and train operators is $56,000 a year, in addition to the average $10,000 of overtime for stations agents and $17,000 for train operators, reports Mother Jones.

The average base salary for full time station agents and train operators is $56,000 a year, in addition to the average $10,000 of overtime for stations agents and $17,000 for train operators, reports Mother Jones.

While many look to that salary and wonder why union workers need a higher salary, train operator William Smith says that’s not the only issue. BART management is attempting to change the contract, resulting in more money taken out of their paycheck for pensions and health insurance, according to Smith.

“Our contract states that each year we pay three percent more for medical insurance, but BART wants to up that,” said Smith. Additionally, the contract BART’s management is proposing takes away some union worker’s rights, said Smith: “we want to maintain the current language of our contract.”

The change in contract is likely due to BART’s management hiring a chief negotiator and general manager outside of the Bay Area. “They have no interest to the Bay Area. There are plenty of negotiators within the area that would love to be paid $400,000 to negotiate BART’s contract,” said Smith.

Smith states that it wasn’t his decision to go on the strike, saying that the current management forced it. He adds, “I feel BART is being disingenuous with the riding public. I make no where near what they’ve printed in the papers,” said Smith. “They vilify the workers, yet they hired us.”

Maurino, who doesn’t think contract negotiations justify the negative effects the strike has imposed, finds it crucial for a compromise to be reached and for the trains to start running again because, “BART is the beating heart of the Bay Area,” he concludes.

Staff Editorial: BART Strikes the City’s Routine

As students with limited affordable transportation options and professors that take the BART for its convenience and speed to get to campus on time, we all have been greatly impacted by the BART strike and its affect on our plans and commute. We, the Foghorn, believe this to be a time of understanding unions and their intentions; as well as maintaining a balanced perspective while critiquing.

As students that come to San Francisco, a city brimming with opportunities for those who can afford the education necessary to be eligible, the BART labor dispute was an inconvenience to us. Yet, as students who should also be aware of prevalent social justice issues in our own communities, we must recognize the considerable wide wealth gap that divides the average Silicon Valley employee and one who maintains BART services.

The BART transports nearly 375,000 commuters along a 104-mile long system on the average weekday. With a halt to this city-funded agency due to wage negotiations, the real impact made on this city will not come from the six-digit income earners that cannot make it to their office, but those “invisible” workers who depend on their meager paycheck and cannot earn it while working from home (i.e. custodians, waiters, etc.).

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute approximated that a day of the BART strike would cost the Bay Area economy $73 million dollars. Yet there is no mention in most media coverage of the strike of this probably being a result of the usually ignored, large number of people in the city that work lower income jobs, just like that of BART employees, not being able to get to their place of work.

A closer look at the unions’ demands shows that their concerns are warranted. Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 have been asking for increased safety measures and a salary that equals some of the risk they expose themselves to whilst working. This past Saturday, two BART employees were killed by an automated train while inspecting the tracks, just one day after the strike began.

The repetitive striking by BART employees is indicative of the unfortunately, disparaging income gap that continues to grow and plague our country. As informed and educated citizens, we must acknowledge that these are individuals demanding the chance to begin bridging this gap.

Tuesday night, BART announced an end to its four-day strike the effect of which was felt by many with a pension, salary and health care settlement that was agreed on by management and the two unions. Even with the reinstatement of the BART service, the topic of working conditions will continue to be negotiated. This is a small victory for not just its union, but for other unions demanding higher wages that give workers the opportunity to save and live comfortably. It is also a step in the effort to fight our country’s income inequality — a feat that will positively affect the lower and middle classes.