San Francisco BART Workers Go On Strike, Shut Down City's Public Transportation
Public transit is currently at a standstill in San Francisco, as union workers went on strike a little after midnight early Monday morning. They are currently in negotiations with the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) over wages, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.
"Years of layoffs have affected public safety and services. Crippling cuts have not just made our jobs more difficult, but put undue strain on our livelihoods, our families and our communities," SEIU union President Roxanne Sanchez said in a statement. "Believing in good jobs that pay fair wages, offer health care and a secure retirement -- these are modest ideals. These are UNION ideals."
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 has refused to operate the BART system until they are able to be guaranteed the wages that they feel they deserve. Their four-year contract with the city's public transportation system expired Sunday night, and despite long negotiations, neither side was willing to give in.
"A strike is always the last resort, and we have done everything in our power to avoid it. Unfortunately, BART seems intent on forcing a strike," Josie Mooney, spokeswoman for SEIU Local 1021, said in a statement. "We are disappointed that BART's failure to bargain honestly and fairly means that hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters have to suffer."
And the Bay Area will certainly suffer. It is believed that the strike will cause an extra 60,000 vehicles to be out on the roads of San Francisco today and for the duration of the strike. The over 2,400 service workers for BART are demanding, at minimum, a five percent increase in wages each year for the next three years.
"Our team is not encouraged by BART's proposal, but we are going to bargain at the request of the labor secretary in good faith as we have all along," said Josie Mooney, an SEIU chief negotiator. "But if BART continues to do 'surface bargaining,' then we will not come to an agreement."
The state of California's mediators are now getting involved to attempt to help the two sides reach an agreement. Until that happens, San Franciscans will be fighting over parking spots that are already outrageously expensive.