Friday, June 28, 2013

Keep the BART trains running

Everyone in the Bay Area needs BART to keep running. The undersigned groups represent thousands of employers across the Bay Area and employ hundreds of thousands of people.  All of us depend on a reliable multi-faceted transportation system.  Not just to get to and from work and to and from  school, but to make and receive deliveries, get to appointments and make all the routine trips needed to conduct our daily lives. 

Recent media reports suggest the possibility of a strike by BART's two largest unions, representing train operators, station agents, mechanics and maintenance workers. We urge all parties to remember the people you serve as you work out a new contract.  A strike will hurt millions of people who have no say in the negotiations.

As employers we recognize the need to manage costs.  We know the past few years have seen lost income and cutbacks for many  business owners and their employees.  Rising health care costs, pension costs and the need to keep capital equipment and facilities up to date are realities we all have to face.

So we understand the need for BART to normalize cost sharing with its’ employees.  To site just two examples, BART employees pay a flat rate of $92 per month regardless of the number of dependents they cover. It means, on average, BART employees pay just 5% of the total cost of the health insurance while BART pays the remaining 95%.  This is an unusually high cost for an employer to bear.

The imbalance is even greater when it comes to pensions. BART employees pay nothing toward their pensions. Most public and private employers share this cost with employees.

BART also must invest in new train cars and keep the system safe for riders and operators.  These investments don’t come cheap and provide all the more reason for smart spending and investment.

BART and the unions should dedicate themselves to the bargaining process to ensure the continuation of service tomorrow and the sustainability of the system in the future. This will require all parties to discuss the fundamental issue of costs and be committed to working towards a mutual agreement on cost sharing.


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