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What the “End” of the BART Strike Really Means

There are a few things to unpack in this article from The New York Times :

A strike that shut down the commuter train service in the San Francisco Bay Area will end Friday after management and the transit workers’ unions agreed Thursday night to extend the current labor contract for 30 days and resume service in the meantime.

In other words, management understands that some arrangement has to be made. From any practical perspective, a BART shutdown has major effects upon the Bay Area’s economy. The workers are acknowledged to have some power.

“The issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved,” Grace Crunican, BART’s general manager, told The Associated Press.

In other words, BART is asking for mercy while pinned to the mat, but it still refuses to offer even the most meager of concessions.

Train operators and station agents earn an average $60,000 annual salary and more than $11,000 in overtime, according to BART.

In other words, BART employees earn only 83.7% of San Francisco’s median income for 2012, despite the tacit acknowledgement that they are skilled workers, and that their efforts are essential to the basic functioning of the Bay Area’s economy.

Management will cave. That’s a given, after today’s cry of "uncle!". What’s not clear is where the extra money will come from. In a perfect world, state and local government funds which are dedicated to "development" of the area’s economy would be applied. In the shitty world we all actually live in, it’s more likely that:

  1. BART’S fares will go through the roof, putting some of the burden on the backs of citizens who already can barely afford their rent;
  2. Service will almost certainly be cut;
  3. The economic viability of the region will suffer, despite the presence of completely viable solutions which take reality into account.

The TLDR here: Myopic idiots refuse to solve a completely solvable problem. Why? Because paying a living wage is, in our modern world, somehow considered to be off the table–and damn the consequences to all of us.