Given the importance of information and making things non-biased, not more biased on Daily Kos, I thought I'd reveal the open letter from the BART workers in its entirety to everyone in the Bay Area and the Kos community:
We are deeply disappointed at the current situation with BART. We are proud of our jobs and work hard to get you where you need to go. Trust us when we say that we want to get back to work just as much as you want us to.
We have tried for months to work with BART’s high-paid negotiators to address critical safety issues in the system. Workers have died because of the current lighting situation, but BART refuses to address this issue at the bargaining table. We want to open bathrooms in stations and keep them clean and safe, but BART won’t address that either. We want to ensure that the system is fully staffed so we have the capacity to keep trains, tracks, and riders safe.
And yes, some of this is about fair pay. We gave up over $100 million in concessions in our last contract negotiations, and we haven’t had a raise in 5 years, yet the cost of living in the Bay Area has spiked by over 18%. Meanwhile ridership is at record high and the system is running at peak condition. We are being asked to do more, with fewer workers and less pay. Its not fair and it hurts our ability to serve the riding public.
We work hard to get riders where they need to go quickly and safely, and as a result, BART has had back-to-back budget surpluses. We stepped up 4 years ago and agreed to freeze our pay, to help keep the system running. Now that their budget is flush, they are still asking us to make cuts and concessions. BART is telling the public that they have offered the workers a pay increase, but they aren’t telling you the whole story. They are also taking away more of our paycheck to fund our medical care and retirement security. They even admitted in bargaining that their latest offer would leave each BART worker with a net pay increase of just $1 per year for the next four years.
We aren’t millionaires or members of the 1%. In fact, many of our workers have to struggle to support their families with the rising cost of living. We are asking for fair pay, adequate staffing, and a safer BART. And management refuses to discuss safety issues or make any serious proposals on staffing and pay.
We remain willing and eager to return to the bargaining table at 6 pm to resolve this strike. The Bay Area – our families and friends included – is suffering and BART isn’t doing anything to stop it. In fact, every action that BART takes confirms to us that they have no interest in resolving this fairly and quickly. In fact, the General Manager refuses to come to the table or even speak to the press! Just like the riders of the Bay Area, we've been left stranded by BART.
We are deeply disappointed, but are willing to return to the table, bargain in good faith, and we hope to end this strike as soon as possible. But we need your help to make sure that we have a willing partner in BART in order to end this strike.
Please contact the General Manager at 510-464-6060 and the BART Board of Directors at 510-464-6095 during business hours to tell them you support the BART workers demands for safety for riders and workers. Urge them to stop playing games and bargain in good faith. Contact them at at firstname.lastname@example.org by email.
What's your course of action at this point?