Supporting the BART workers
Workers everywhere seem to be fighting a losing battle to keep wages in line with inflation, to keep decent health care benefits and to keep a retirement plan that will allow security after a lifetime of work.
The BART workers aren't asking for much: a pay increase after five years of a wage freeze and worker safety rules. The tragic death of two workers during the strike should show why such rules are needed.
They have already agreed to paying a larger portion of the costs of their health care and pension.
Meanwhile, inequality in this country is growing, with the stock market once again happily ballooning upward and CEO salaries thousands of times higher than what the workers in their companies earn.
That's why I support the BART workers. We are all linked to the standards set by other workers when they say: "I'm paying more for my health care ... I haven't had a wage increase in years."
I'm proud of the BART workers and their union for saying "no;" they won't join this race to the bottom. And when I negotiate my contract, I want to be able to say, "The BART workers stood up and they won."
Ban strikes by transit workers
It is a true insult to the taxpaying and fare-paying public that BART operators and other employees, some of whom receive comparable pay to engineers and physicians, hold the largely less fortunate public ridership hostage with their strikes time and again.
One sees many professionals and graduates of top colleges routinely earning one-third to half of what BART operators receive. Yet they are forced to pay extra taxes and high fares in order to get to work to support these out-of-proportion salaries for BART workers and management.
It is time to pass legislation banning strikes by public transit workers in California before this and other unreasonable strikes damage our transit-dependent economy even further.
Everyone needs affordable care
In her Oct. 15 letter, Dawn Magnussen expressed concern that "the best health coverage in the world will now be downgraded" as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
However, the average cost and quality of health care in America is actually lower than that provided in other countries (even some Third World countries), causing many Americans to fly to other countries to obtain prescription medications and health care services.
Despite spending almost twice the amount on health care, the health and life expectancy of the average American is sadly well below that of many countries with far fewer resources than the United States. The ACA is an important step toward making sure all people have access.
I am certainly looking forward to a national aligned effort to make sure everyone has access to health care. I'm also looking forward to greater transparency of cost for services and quality outcomes between all insurance providers and health care organizations.
When health care becomes at least as safe as flying an airplane, I will have more trust in our current systems.
There's an award-winning documentary, "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" coming out soon. I'll be looking forward to watching it!
Benicia Bunce-Houston, a clinical nurse specialist, has worked in health care for 27 years.
Private sector does it better
I take exception to your recent Sunday editorial extolling the capability of our government.
You state that only government could have completed Interstate 80, the Bay Bridge and the Caldecott Tunnel. Hah!
First of all, private industry did 99 percent of the work; government (we taxpayers) paid the bills.
Major engineering and construction companies routinely plan, engineer, procure and construct projects such as these -- and do it better, cheaper and faster. Heck, Bechtel built a complete city in Saudi Arabia.
Frankly, when I look back I come to a complete blank when I try to think of one thing our federal or state government has done really well.
Fire transit workers who go on strike
I have the perfect solution for (any future) government shutdowns: Next time a citizen goes to the polls, just look for the word "incumbent" and vote the other way. Get rid of do-nothing leeches feeding on the public.
Insofar as strikes by public transit workers: If they strike, fire them and hire new people.
BART and AC Transit workers should be satisfied they have a job -- and high-paying, at that!