Need no-strike clause for all transit contracts

If the people of California are fed up with what's going on in this country, then they should try to remember what is happening today at voting time.

The only thing we can do is vote; otherwise, no one pays any attention to the people.

I don't know how or what it takes to put a no-strike clause in all public transportation contracts in this state, but I believe people who have to ride public transportation would agree that they need it.

I don't know if people who don't take the paper or watch TV know that the same union that had BART employees strike is the same one that is trying to get the AC Transit employees to do the same thing.

Walter D. Terry

Union City

Approve of deal, but we need a middle class

I do approve of the proposed agreement between BART and its unions.

I am a retired PG&E employee. I have been a union member all through my life while working in three countries. I feel that our economy is based on consumer spending and that we need a strong middle-class wage to support it.

Therefore, I suggest that upper management consider taking a wage cut instead of passing it on to these union employees. After all, it might be these employees who help keep our middle class alive.

Al Zazzeron

Alameda

Need more details to make judgment

I don't know how anyone can realistically respond to this topic when we know so little about the details.

For example: How many union workers are employed in various job classifications, and how many salaried workers are used to run the whole operation. This to include salaries, benefits and retirement plans.

Additionally, it would be helpful to know what are the plans for future expansion and, of course, associated costs and projected budgets. This would include projected future fare increases and expected usage.

And, finally, I would like to see a cost/benefit comparison to a bus service that provides the same transportation.

David Brusiee

Pleasanton

Private operator would offer more efficiency

BART management has much for which to be happy, but nothing for which to be proud. The fare payers are the losers once again.

I believe that the BART directors should contract with a private-sector operator who will have an incentive to efficiently operate the system and negotiate with the various unions.

The elected BART directors should not be involved in contract negotiations unless they are barred from accepting campaign fund donations from the various unions that represent BART employees.

Edward Zawatson

Concord

BART in need of massive reform

For 2013-2014, BART labor costs will now average approximately $121,000 per current employee, including salaries and outrageously expensive benefits -- such as three weeks' vacation after the first year of employment, plus 13 paid holidays annually.

Per-employee costs then continue inflating, to about $135,000 in 2017-2018, when the next round of extortionate "negotiations" (i.e., irresponsible new giveaways by BART's spendthrift board of directors) gets underway.

BART's recent two strikes (like previous such disruptions) and California's unsustainable agreements with public-sector unions at large, highlight the need for massive reform -- and demonstrate the truth of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1937 letter to the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

FDR noted therein that "collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," and that "militant tactics have no place" among government employees.

In particular, "a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent ... to prevent or obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable."

Michael Arata

Danville

Public must take control of BART

It is somewhat disingenuous to ask whether or not the public approves of the proposed agreement between BART and its unions. Since when does our opinion matter?

The two sides spent more than 200 days haggling over this, while thinking nothing of wreaking absolute chaos on the commuting public. While they argue over their pension, health care and medieval work rules, they cost the region an estimated $70 million per day.

It is time the public take control of BART and remove it from the amateur negotiators representing the unions and management. I wholeheartedly support Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer's efforts to end this process and make our public transit agencies subject to binding arbitration.

BART is too big to fail and it is time our union-supported politicians wake up to this fact and show the courage to represent their constituents.

Mark Zuercher

Orinda

New contract benefits only those on inside

"Outsiders" should oppose the BART contract.

"Insiders" are all union members in any union and their beneficiaries. This includes the Legislature and their team of lobbyists. No management team or individual can stand up against the insiders.

The outsiders are the rest of us, who are far more numerous but unorganized. Our weapon is the proposition process and a formula that specifically determines how wages and benefits, and so on, are set -- without management influence.

There was a widespread group of California politicians on the fence regarding Proposition 13 before it was enacted. They became instant supporters of Prop. 13 when it won by a landslide.

I fear that the current BART settlement will be a blueprint for wages and benefits for bullet train workers. That's why the voters need to actively get involved.

Curt Wood

Walnut Creek

Management caved in to demands once again

BART unions got much more than they deserve, and BART management proved, once again, it doesn't have a spine.

Previous letters mentioned living wages and indentured servants. Really? Does anyone believe $83,000, no pension contribution, and $92 a month for health coverage is slave labor? Many would be delighted to be so enslaved.

Management caved in, again, as mentioned in a recent Daniel Borenstein column, "A look at raises, benefits shows BART workers won labor fight."

There may be lawsuits resulting from the deaths of the two workers on Oct. 19. I've seen the unions already point the finger at BART management. But the fact is, those two workers would not have been there if there was no strike, and the unions called the strike.

I believe they should be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Once again, the taxpaying public and the BART riders will be stuck paying for management's poor leadership of and the union's greed.

Please go to BanBARTstrikes.com to sign their petition. We can't allow this madness to continue.

Jim Cauble

Hayward

Transit should not be allowed to strike

BART should not be allowed to strike. Certainly there will be differences of opinion between staff and management. These should be handled as they happen and turned over to a committee who will handle the grievances, and no disruptions will occur.

Hannah Williams

Hayward

'Leaders' sold union members down river

The unions' misleaders sold the workers out; they lifted the first strike without the workers' vote, spent more than three months wasting time to wear the workers down, then called a second strike to lift it again without the workers' vote.

What the contract leaders agreed to doesn't even cover the concessions they've made on health care and pensions, not to mention the inflation. All of this on top of almost 20 years of concessions by the unions.

The strike has shown the power of the working class, who, when united, have the potential to bring the capitalist system to its knees.

Leo T. West

San Leandro