Support the BART Strike

BARTThe BART strike that started this morning is a major inconvenience for me—totally screwing up a work project. Still, I support the workers in this conflict. Sadly, I think that most American workers look at strikes from the standpoint of management and this is perverse. I see it as akin to a San Franciscan (or anyone, really) supporting the Dallas Cowboys.

Strikes are rarely about what they seem. In this country, they are usually about management trying to put workers in their place. It’s about power. It’s about control. In fact, this is why companies like Walmart are so much against allowing unions. It isn’t that the unions would be that powerful and “steal” all their profits. It is mostly just about keeping workers as helpless as possible so that the management is in control.

A good example of this is Milton Hershey during the first half of the last century. He is a legend for having treated his employees really well. But he was totally against allowing them to unionize. In his mind, he was the patriarch and the workers were his children. He wanted to be nice to them, but he did not want them to think of themselves as peers, much less equals. He wanted to give them good wages because he wanted to, not because they demanded them.

We are seeing the same thing going on in the BART strike. The two sides are in agreement about the economic issues. The negotiations have broken down over the issue of work rules. As it is now, if there are changes to how the work gets down, management and the workers must agree. Management claims this is hurting their ability to manage work. That seems like a reasonable complaint. Management needs to be able to manage, right? But that’s a great overstatement. Their prime example is that if they decide to run extra trains for a special event, then they would be required to do that every year. Okay. But if that’s their best example, I’m not too sympathetic.

The union rightly worries that if management can just change the work rules willy-nilly, they will do so to punish workers who have filed workplace complaints. But the union did give on this issue. They agreed to allow binding arbitration on such matters. That would seemingly address the concerns on both sides.

Unfortunately, it looks like management is engaged in a gambit. They have been pretty reasonable on the economic issues but are sticking with this one issue that they know the union hates. It is terrible but entirely typical. If there is one thing that has been destroying America for the last 60 years (first slowly and then quickly), it is the erosion of unions. What we are seeing in San Francisco is part of that. And this is what happens when the workers still have a strong union; it is much worse for most workers. As annoying as this strike is, we must support the workers.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Support the BART Strike

  1. Any kind of power is very likely to be abused. The fact that people have no memory whatsoever about why unions were created in the first place is baffling. Remember way back when those dangerous, sometimes deadly, working conditions? Child labor? Sexual abuse? Outrageously low pay, just because?

    I worked for a Republican who was very much against unions, including the teachers’ union. His daughter is now a teacher herself and I can’t help wondering if he was able to get his head around the fact that the union is now looking out for the best interests of his daughter, or if he still sees it as nasty leech on his not very hard earned money.

  2. @Andrea – It bugs me that people complain about how unions have been violent in the past. How about that? I wonder why! And now that unions are basically dead again (private sector unionization is 7%), we are going back to those dark days.

    As for your boss, he is a dick either way. I am so sick of conservatives being against (for example) gay rights but suddenly see the light when their children turn out to be gay. Total fucktards!

  3. A mind that must be pried open for the tiniest bit of light to filter in isn’t worth it’s weight in brains.

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