“The tragedy of two deaths in the San Francisco BART strike has its origins in the same management attitudes we see demonstrated by TriMet’s top level management,” says Bruce Hansen, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. He’s referring to the death of two BART workers, struck by a train being operated by a manager driving during a labor strike. The BART workers were on strike primarily because of work rule changes, benefit takeaways and safety issues. That strike ended last night when the company and the union reached a tentative agreement.
The strike happened because BART’s management team proposed many changes in work rules and employee benefits. Just like TriMet, the management team contended that the transit agency’s workers held relatively unskilled positions, were overpaid, and did not deserve their benefits. “When I read BART’s public relations push, I thought I was reading a Portland newspaper,” says Hansen.“TriMet’s latest, drive-the-bus-around-the-
For the first time, Hansen is going public with what has been happening at the bargaining table. “We met for 20 days. We didn’t bargain. Instead, managers used 18 of those days explaining their takeaway proposals.” Hansen says the managers’ proposed takeaways degrade every aspect of the workers’ employment, not just wages and benefits but their rights as well.
“Even worse,” says Hansen, “TriMet’s managers are only on page 90 of their 170-page proposal.” Hansen reports the managers have, so far, explained over 100 takeaways. He said, “That number is so far outside the norm that we have repeatedly asked TriMet to schedule an extra number of bargaining days. Thus far, they have refused.”
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