Unintended Consequences of the BART Strike

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Question: What’s the one thing that could wipe the gay marriage celebration from the headlines in San Francisco?

Answer: A strike by Bay Area Rapid Transit workers.

The contracts between the taxpayer funded government transit organization that serves the region and it’s union workforce expired late Sunday night, bringing the first strike of workers since 1997.

This is a catastrophe which has stranded 200,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area who depend on BART daily – right before the July 4th holiday. Now, they must find another way to get around. Their options are limited since congested bridges don’t have the capacity to handle additional cars.

BART management and its unions have indicated that they have no plans as of this writing to return to the bargaining table. They are far apart on issues involving compensation and safety issues, though most who have been polled blame the unions for walking away from the bargaining table.

The economic costs to the San Francisco Bay Area region and the Silicon Valley are staggering and mounting by the day. The unions know that no other shut down of transit would have the economic or personal impact of a strike by BART workers.

Let’s talk about some of the intended and unintended consequences of the union’s militant action –

  • Adverse Economic Impact on Families: In an area where gas prices are above $4.00 per gallon, the strike is having an adverse economic impact on families who depend on the train to get to work.
  • Regional Economic Impact on Productivity: The Bay Area Economic Institute estimates a $73 million loss per day in labor productivity due to the BART strike. While some people who work in technology and other industries can telecommute, what happens if you are a retailer, a restaurant, or boutique business? You’re screwed.
  • Adverse Environmental Impact: The Bay Area’s most frequent routes are through the East Bay Area, which is experiencing poor air quality due to brush fires and an excruciating heat wave that has temperatures inland between 103 and 109 degrees. Do unionized workers care at all about the environment? More cars on already congested highways in the heat is not good.
  • Negative Educational / Tourist Industry Impact.  For the very first time, our family is hosting an exchange student from Spain. Edu-Culture Immersion, based in Berkeley, works hard to match students with volunteer host families to give high school students the opportunity to learn English and American culture. They have had to re-arrange their entire schedule, costing the host families, students, and the organization time and money. What does this say about American independence for these young people with July 4th just a few days away?

Crossposted on Thoughtful Women

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