Governor Brown’s “No Strike” Edict for BART Workers - TWSC Statement

Governor Brown’s “No Strike” Edict for BART Workers

The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee condemns Governor Brown for denying the BART workers’ right to strike for 60 days. As the Contra Costa Times states it “was a victory for management.” But workers have a fundamental right of freedom of association, i.e. to organize themselves into a union to bargain with employers and the right to strike, i.e. freely withhold their labor, if necessary, to achieve a decent contract.

Across the U.S., workers have been attacked and scapegoated for the economic crisis and public sector workers have falsely been blamed for government budget overruns by the likes of Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown of California. Their solution is to cut jobs and wages of workers and public services for all. Amalgamated Transit Union negotiator, Yuri Hollie, has called this bipartisan attack “warfare on the working class”. We believe she’s right.

There is no agreement to date because BART Board of Directors hired an intransigent union-busting negotiator, Thomas Hock, and started negotiations late (May 15). The BART Directors have not bargained in good faith, have kept union negotiators waiting hours on end and not budged on key safety issues, all in a concerted effort to incite the public against the BART workers and set the stage for invoking California’s version of Taft-Hartley, the slave labor act. The actions of these culprits in collusion with corrupt politicians threaten a transit meltdown.

California “friends of labor” Democrats from Senators Feinstein and Boxer to San Francisco Mayor Lee and Oakland Mayor Quan have all applauded Governor Brown’s anti-labor decision. This should come as no surprise to workers. In 2002, Senator Diane Feinstein called on President Bush to invoke Taft-Hartley against the longshore union during contract talks. A year later, then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown gave the green light for police to attack longshoremen and anti-war protesters in the port, a bloody repression condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission. And now, Mark DeSaulnier, East Bay Democrat head of the state Senate Transportation Committee, has called for legislation that bans transit worker strikes. With “friends” like this who needs enemies?

BART projects revenue surpluses of $125 million a year for the next 10 years. That’s enough to provide BART workers with decent wages that compensates them for the wage freeze they’ve endured since 2008. Furthermore, BART could readily reduce the fare for seniors and the poor by assessing developers and corporations whose property values soar when BART expands. It’s time to quit stalling and negotiate in good faith and not resort to anti-union state measures which will incur the wrath of organized labor and its allies in working class communities.

We unreservedly defend the BART workers. Tens of thousands of workers in the in union-strong Bay Area face hugely concessionary demands and are working without contracts. BART workers set the standard for many Bay Area contracts. We call on the labor movement and community groups to rally behind the BART workers who are fighting for all of us. United working class action can stop the race to the bottom! A rising tide lifts all boats! If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (
August 12, 2013