Many workers who use public transportation to get to their jobs in the Bay area may need to find a different way in on Monday.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) went on strike for four days in early July and looks to be doing it again. BART workers issued an intent to strike on Thursday, giving a deadline of midnight Sunday. During that time, negotiations have been ongoing, but aren’t looking good. Grace Crunican, BART General Manager, said both sides continue to negotiate, but are “far apart on wages. We’re far apart on pensions. We’re far apart on medical.”
During the short July strike, some telecommuters stayed with friends or family in the city. Others had to wake up hours early, use their personal vehicles, ferry’s, and spend money for a spot in a parking garage. But not all who use BART have the luxury of a vehicle, and even if they do, another member of their household may also need it.
California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern, who joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Friday morning to call for an end to the uncertainty, said Governor Jerry Brown may even consider intervening in the negotiations, as well as many other options, to keep this strike from happening.
The July strike also found some lower-income workers not on the schedule for that week, leaving them without important wages. Many of these workers cannot afford another strike.
For some, if this strike happens, it may just be an inconvenience of time using an alternative way to work. Others will not be able to afford the gas (if they have a vehicle), the fares for the ferry to and from, and/or the cost of parking every day.
Some experts say the telecommuters who may have the most influence in keeping the strike from happening are the wealthier individuals who use BART. Robert Cervero, a UC Berkeley professor of city planning, said, “Wealthier folks feel it more since they are more time sensitive – i.e., have a higher value of time.” He also said it may be a good thing because they may have connections with certain politicians, adding, “it is the pain to the nonpoor that often creates the political pressure to quickly resolve the strike.”
One worker who uses BART, Lenny Malepai, called the situation a “Catch-22,” saying, “Yes, they deserve to make more and get good benefits. And, no, they’re disrupting everybody else’s life. They should just settle for what they have and tough it out.”