Public Unions

BART Employees in San Francisco Strike over Having to Contribute to Own Pensions

Apparently contributing to your own retirement is like taking a pay cut


Doing their best to make sure California's economic recovery is short-lived
Credit: wallyg / / CC BY-NC-ND

Yes, amid this dreadfully slow-to-recover American economy, there are still government employees that don't pay anything into their own retirement plans.

In San Francisco, workers for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) have voted to strike, leaving commuters to scramble for other ways to get to work. The workers unions' contracts had expired, and two of their unions voted overwhelmingly last week to authorize a strike.

Here's how the San Francisco Chronicle described the gap between the two sides:

The unions are asking for raises that add up to about 23.2 percent over three years. They're also demanding the transit agency take steps to improve safety on the job. BART has offered 1 percent raises, contingent on the agency meeting economic goals, in each year of the four-year contract it's proposed. The agency has said it needs employees to pick up a share of their pension contributions, to increase their health insurance costs and to approve rule changes that would reduce overtime.

"Pick up a share." As in, BART employees currently don't pay anything into their own pension funds. BART officials sweetened the pot over the weekend with an 8 percent pay increase over four years, but the unions apparently rejected it, claiming that the increase wasn't "real" because it would be consumed by the money they would have to put in to pay their own benefits.

Earlier in June, reporters from the Bay Area News Group took note of BART's highest paid employee from last year, the agency's former general manager, who managed to rake in a $333,000 salary even though she had technically resigned amid controversy over her job performance. Read about her here.

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  1. “In San Francisco,…”

    That pretty much tells the story.

  2. An 8% pay increase when they asked for 23%?

    That’s a 15% cut in pay! The monsters!

    1. My favorite part:

      the increase wasn’t “real” because it would be consumed by the money they would have to put in to pay their own benefits.

      1. Welcome to the motherfuckin’ party, pal.

          1. The cake is a lie. Sorry.


              Turns out the cake wasn’t a lie, but Johnny already ate it;)

      2. It’s about the shit other people pay for them, and don’t you forget it. Stupid people pay for their own shit.

      3. My favorite part is that a monkey could do most of these jobs. They should be thankful for jobs with pay and benes like this that require similar qualifications of a min age cashier or bike messenger

        1. lol min wage, not age.

          I get so mad at these types of stories.

          I better stay away from any teachers today or I may go dahmer on them

        2. I would’ve killed for a job driving a train in high school, even for minimum wage. Sitting down in air conditioning would’ve beat the shit out of bagging groceries and stocking shelves, and especially dodging snake strikes while throwing 50-pound bales of hay onto a moving trailer in 105-degree heat for 5 cents a bale.

          1. Farming is the worst. That’s why so few natural US citizens are really willing to farm. Sure they’ll drive a combine or something, but they won’t get out in the sun and do the hard work. It’s sad too because having a farm job as a teenager gives you a whole new appreciation for every other job out there.

            1. It’ll even make you appreciate the charms of a sweat shop.

  3. How can any union justify contributing nothing to their own pension? Yet another reason to make public unions illegal. The employees end up negotiating their contracts with the very people their union contributions and GOTV efforts helped to elect. That’s dumber than a Kardashian.

    1. I would like to point out that, while annoying and puerile, the Kardashians should probably not be considered dumb…their ability to peddle their petty lives into millions of dollars seems rather smart. Not defending them but just cause they suck doesn’t mean they are incapable.

      1. The Kardasians are geniuses. The stupid fucks that actually follow them and make the money they rake in possible? They are a good reason for us to consider stirilization or at least something to prevent them from procreating and expanding the membership of the already insanely large “stupid people pool” more.

        1. You might want to ensure your comment is coherent before you rant about how stupid *other* people are.

        2. A genius sells a t-shirt for $50.

          A fool buys a t-shirt for $50.

          1. To apply to BART that T Shirt has to go for $130,000 – the AVERAGE salary plus benefits for BART employees.

            How they survive on such a pittance I don’t know.


          1. Your mom prefers it otherwise Mr. English major.

            1. I’m an accountant. This talk of “majors” is not even warranted, you need to learn to express yourself above an elementary level, especially when you’re calling other people stupid.

              1. If I wanted to spend a lot of time doing so, I would. You are welcome to ignore my hastily typed posts if they cause you so much consternation bud.

                And I only call people stupid when they deserve it., If you are one of those that spends time following the Kardasians you are at least not very bright IMO. Watching paint dry is more valuable and educational. That should have been easy to pick up.

    2. The argument is that the workers don’t make as much as they would in private industry, but make up for lower salaries with better benefits. But it’s b.s.: the average station agent or train driver makes about $60K, plus $10-15K in overtime, plus $50K in benefits. (They pay $92/month for health care, which covers their families, too.)

    3. How can any union justify contributing nothing to their own pension?

      My personal theory is that the union leadership knows the pensions are fucked. It would be worth it to them and their membership to get a lower raise, but no contribution, because they fear, at the end of the day, the pensions will be worthless after the state goes bankrupt.

      Or they can just be greedy fucks who are “negotiating” with a party who is not adversarial to their gains.

      1. What you suggest makes sense.
        It also sounds like even with the pay increase the contributions would equal a take home pay cut.. I haven’t seen any real numbers so take that as speculation with huge bags of salt.

        The thing is %pay increase negotiations require context. How much are they making, when when was their last raise? What jobs are they doing in what numbers? ect. Train drivers should be thankful they still have jobs. SF airport internal shuttle doesn’t have drivers, and Google can drive cars around I don’t see why BART needs human drivers…

  4. The unions are asking for raises that add up to about 23.2 percent over three years. They’re also demanding the transit agency take steps to improve safety on the job. BART has offered 1 percent raises

    23.2 / 3. Holy Shiite! That’s almost 8% raises for 3 straight years? The biggest raise I have received in the past 5 years, is 2.5%. WTF? I don’t know anyone in the private sector that is getting 8% pay raises. It’s unheard of. Why do these public employees deserve better than the rest of us?

    1. “‘Deserve”s got nothin’ to do with it.”

      1. +1 come back and kill all your families and burn down your homes

    2. I haven’t had any raise at all in the past 5 years. These people can get fucked.

      1. Same here no raise in the last 3.5 years

    3. I have gotten a 8.33% raise and a 7.7% raise each of the last two years, but it’s because I probably came into the company well below my marginal rate of production. I started at $12/hr, went to $13/hr shortly after my first year finished, and having finally received my 2nd annual evaluation, received another raise to $14/hr.

      But anything outside of hourly pay, 8% increase is pretty unheard of.

      1. Over the last 3 years, I’ve received, 2.5%, 2%, and 1%. We’re on a fast path to 0%.

        After all of those raises, because of the increased cost of my health insurance, my take home pay is less than it was at the beginning of the 3 years.

    4. raises? just little 2.5% or (max) 3% yearly ones. Of course in 2008 we took a pay cut, so I’ve finally been digging out from that hole.

    5. I got about a 20% raise last year, but it’s a very small company and the raise basically put me in the range that I would be paid elsewhere, after proving my worth at the job. If we had ironclad titles, it was probably akin to dropping the “Assistant” modifier from my position.

      What I’m saying is, though I probably make less than most people here: ha ha!

    6. I’m making half what I made 2 years ago plus I have no benes.

      So you can imagine what I think about these clowns.

      I wish Reagan was in charge of SF

  5. Parasites gonna parasite.

    1. According to the union, the taxpayers are the real parasites.

      1. Parasites have a tendency to say that.

      2. Of course they are. They have money left over after paying taxes, don’t they?

      3. Doesn’t this say it all?

  6. Time to start building walls around the big cities to keep the bastards in.

  7. My employer’s pay freeze is heading into its third year. Fuck those people. Hard.

    1. We had people who had to choose between pay cuts and layoffs. Then again, we’re in the nasy old private sector, so we deserve what we get.

    2. I was furloughed over Xmas for a week. Nothing like an automatic 2% pay cut. Merry Christmas mother fuckers!

      1. Did you at least get a jelly of the month club membership?

  8. Make their strike illegal and then fire them all.

  9. Give it to them. All of it.
    When the ship’s sinking, don’t waste time negotiating the menu with the rats.

    1. “As a small token of consolation for the difficulties union members have endured during these negotiations, the Great City of San Francisco is awarding each member a check for $23.2million.”

  10. Fucking awesome. On the day I land in San Fran.

    Fuck off, parasites, and do your fucking job.

    1. At least you know to run to the Hertz counter when you get off the plane.

      1. I’m thinking limo.

        1. Urchin drawn rickshaw, FTW.

        2. Hobo style – walk the BART tracks.

  11. It is inconceivable that such heinous oppression and exploitation of workers can exist in twenti-first century America.

    1. I hope the original mine-workers and longshoreman whose jobs were actually difficult and dangerous and had to actually fight to unionize are waiting at the gates of hell to “welcome” their modern comrades by beating them to death several times before alloing them into hell.

      1. At the local BART station there are picketers. This at a station 30 miles from SF where a neighbor left for work at 5 AM this morning and got in after 9 AM. So on his trip home – another ordeal – he was able to spy with his little eye the very people that put him thru that hell……and they were complaining to him.

        I get to work from home as long as it lasts. So I’m fine with going to the mat and/or firing them all.

  12. “BART officials sweetened the pot over the weekend with an 8 percent pay increase over four years, but the unions apparently rejected it, claiming that the increase wasn’t “real” because it would be consumed by the money they would have to put in to pay their own benefits.”

    Whom, precisely, would the increase be consumed by?

    The money wouldn’t be mine–because it would just go into my pension!

    Now that’s what I call circular logic.

    1. BART officials sweetened the pot over the weekend with an 8 percent pay increase over four years, but the unions apparently rejected it

      Fire them all and then see if they can find 12 people for a jurty that are non-union and thinks their strike wasn’t absenteeism.

  13. Public mass transit works because everyone pays into it to cover the cost. This is the exact same concept that BART workers are asked to appreciate for their own pensions, and it’s so basic, that there really shouldn’t be any partisan way to spin it.

  14. All of this discussion about pay, and not one spambot “my brother-in-law makes $5000/month working from home” entry? Stupid robots. I guess the singularity is not a near as I thought.

    1. Or maybe the anonybots are all lurking, waiting to find out how they can get some of that sweet BART cash!

    2. Mortimer, I couldn’t believe it myself but my friend Dorothy Dugger made $333,000 sitting at home on her IRS-funded italian leather sofa instagramming her artisanal mayo sandwich on Facebook. Now she drives a coal-powered green car that runs on unicorn dreams and taxes.

  15. We have to resist these demands..or these people will be joining the 1% and competing with us for monocles, gold headed canes, striped pants, and yachts. I’ll bet the final resolution will be a compromise where the union gets half the raise they wanted and 75% of everything else (which will be almost exactly what their unspoken ultimate goal was when they authorized the strike.)

  16. My orphan didn’t get a raise this year, so why should these folks?

  17. You know, the funny thing is that there’s really not a lot of reason the trains, at least, couldn’t be automated. The technology’s been around for decades and is at least as reliable as human operators. So, yeah, give’em their raise and benefits. And fire 80% of them.

  18. An overwhelming percentage of the inconvenienced riders voted for the assholes who made this strike possible, so I’m not exactly outraged over this.

  19. We need about 20% more money.

  20. Looters gonna loot.

  21. Short on details…
    Does anyone know who exactly from BART is going on strike? Is i just the drivers? or does the BART union mean everyone working at BART? I also keep hearing quotes about the ridiculous average pay for the union members, what are the averages per role? (say driver, station agent, bart police, train controllers ect). What are the median wages?

    I mean the BART trains are quite old, always over crowded and feature expensive tickets so I can believe sky high wages, but I feel I need more information to really understand the current situation.

    1. Source

      The key issues in the dispute are economic: wages, contributions to pensions and health insurance payments. Currently, BART employees, union and nonunion, make no contribution to their state pension plans and pay $92 a month for health insurance.

      BART officials said they had doubled their salary offer – to an 8 percent raise over four years – but that the unions had reduced their proposal for a 23.2 percent raise by only half a percentage point. They said it was the unions’ turn to make a proposal.

      A typical BART station agent or train operator is paid a salary in the low $60,000 range. According to BART, they also make an average of $11,000 to $16,000 annually in overtime. The value of their benefits, the district estimates, averages an additional $50,000 a year.

      1. That’s cheap. You pull a train in Vegas you can make way more.

        1. Cheap, really? Google can drive cars with a computer. These are trains on rails, why do they need drivers at all?

          1. Good point… reminds me of several airports I’ve transited through in the past month… fixed route, total electronic control…

            Ah, but no union operators on them…

      2. Interesting. That’s good info. thx.

        Seems quite high for drivers that we could replace with computers and station agents who could be replaced by kids in high school.

        The union has more members though right? mechanics, cops, and other jobs that require actual skill. This is a public partially tax supported org, it would be nice to see all the numbers.

        Side muse, I presume ‘typical’ here means median?

  22. Apparently there are some reports that they also struck for more security, like bullet-proof glass and doors for the drivers and something about better bathroom facilities, too…

    Got any leads on that?

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