Did the governor’s call for a 60-day cooling off period really accomplish anything?
Barring some unexpected settlement during the 60-day period, pushing any labor action until mid-October just gave the union substantially more leverage if the members walk off the job. Yes, it was chaotic during the 4th of July week, but that’s a time when as many people are on vacation as are trying to get to work. A strike during the vacation days of July and August is much preferable to the serious business month of October.
So the governor has provided the union with additional leverage despite “buying 60 days” of labor peace. If the media reports are accurate, the union basically has not moved in its demands and management keeps sweetening its offers. What you have is leverage on one side that is notably recalcitrant for workers with jobs that require nothing more than a high school education.
These folks and their unions have been in a sweet spot—job actions cause huge disruptions and Democrat elected officials are typically very hesitant to buck their union supporters. Sadly, any time the elected officials have become involved, it quickly has become a give-away to the unions. That’s why the BART workers are the highest compensated non-skilled transportation workers in the country and pay nothing for their pensions and $92 per month for family health care that can cost as much of $1,500 per month. Throw in unfunded pension liabilities of more than $150 million and yes, you have a financial train wreck.
To say nothing about trains and other equipment that are deteriorating with age (the system is 60 years old), with no reserve to pay for necessary capital improvements.
Contrast BART with Pleasanton, which also compensates its employees very well. When the economy turned down and it was clear that the current trend of wages and benefits could not be sustained over time, management led with a pay freeze, a soft hiring freeze and voluntarily started again paying their share of pension contributions again. It should be noted that the plans were originally designed for the employee and the employer to contribute—over the years agencies took over the employees’ share as an added perk.
Pleasanton has righted its pension ship, although the city still has a significant unfunded liability to pay down.
Now, look at the BART employees where the union is holding a hard line and management keeps sweetening an offer that should be—in union terms—100 percent takeaways to bring some balance back into the picture.
Sadly, the BART board and management have literally given away the store and now are trying to claw it back.
That said, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the BART board got courageous and issued a best and final offer. If the union walks, replace them—permanently.
There likely would be lots of support for that even in the liberal Bay Area—residents can do arithmetic.