With no clear indications on when the ongoing Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) union strike will end, thousands of commuters in the San Francisco area find other ways to get to work.
People who are going to San Francisco or around other places within the bay area get tangled in a paralyzing situation as BART employees has staged Friday morning its third strike. Most of the commuters are driving their own cars while others opt for the car-pooling system. There are also some who have packed their bags and found places to stay in San Francisco or areas near their work places. In any way they can, people relying on the BART trains for their daily commute are trying to be resourceful to avoid being caught in the present labor unrest among the transit employees against the management.
For several weeks now, negotiations continued between the union representatives and mediators. Warning on impending strike was already issued weekend of last week but it was stalled as the negotiation table remained open. However during the latest talks Thursday night, the discussion failed to reach a positive point. By midnight Friday, all trains were put to a halt as workers announced yet its third strike in a period of three months.
While many commuters grumble their way to work getting snarled in humungous traffic in highways leading to San Francisco, BART workers stand firm on their demands. The two unions representing almost 2,400 train employees seek a 23% pay hike for three years. BART management is offering a 3% annual increase over four years but workers have to give a 4% share to the pension pool and 9.5% to health care benefits. Currently, employees are already contributing to $92 every month for health care but no share to pension.
Although nothing can be done to stop the workers from staging another strike, the public is not taking the issue sitting down. People, especially those affected by the labor conflict are criticizing the striking employees. The workers are among the better-paid employees in the area and an individual worker generally earns an average of $65,000 yearly. Irked commuters censure the BART unions for their apparent greediness that while many Americans are unemployed or underemployed, they seek more of their share from the pie. Many commuters admit being at the mercy of the railway transport for their work commute. Most residents in the Bay area prefer to take the BART to avoid traffic and parking problems, save on gas and just enjoy an easier way to work without having to drive their own cars.
Public assistance is being extended to commuters to ease out their transportation dilemma during the BART strike. There are charter buses in San Francisco although they can only transport around 6,000 people everyday. Car-pooling schedules are also announced for those who opt for it. Overall, the public is given assurance that the strike will not completely shut down their lives because there are available alternatives.
Further negotiations on the demands of BART employees may not take place over the weekend. This could mean that the riding public would have to bear out the situation for another week. It could be recalled that when BART workers went on strike last July 1, California governor Jerry Brown had to intervene by issuing an order for investigation that put on hold another impending walk out.