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7 Key Things You Need to Know About the BART Strike in California

News and social media are awash in misunderstanding and disinfo about the strike. Here are the facts that matter.

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Meanwhile, BART general managers make an average $399,000 a year. A 2009 investigative research report found that BART managers spend millions travelling and wining and dining at taxpayers expense. 

4. Worker safety is also a huge part of negotiations.

Besides demanding fair wages and compensation packages, workers are also requiring improved safety conditions, such as lighting improvements in the underground trackways and improved trainings. Since 2009, BART employee injuries have risen 43 percent. Meanwhile assaults on station agents went from nine percent to 31 percent last year. These attacks include rape and homicide.

As BART officials have refused to acknowledge and negotiate safer working conditions, the two unions have filed a lawsuit charging BART’s elected Board of Directors as refusing to bargain in good faith over worker safety.

5. More than just a BART strike. 

While the BART strike is drawing national attention, another strike also took off in the Bay Area on Monday. More than 3,000 Oakland City workers went on a one-day strike, as an attempt to put pressure on the government for stalling negotiations. These workers included street and park maintenance employees, librarian assistants, etc. Head Start and senior center programs were affected. The last time Oakland city workers went on strike was in 1946.

AC Transit, the major bus service in the East Bay, is undergoing negotiations as workers' contracts also expired Sunday at midnight. Though talks resume, if ATU 192 also decides to strike, it would bring the East Bay to a halt.

6. Everyone’s wrongly complaining about their commute.

So, the 400,000 people who ride BART each weekday had to find an alternative route to work. The Bay Bridge was like a “parking lot,” buses were swamped and the lines for other public transit were long. We get it. That’s what happens when a major public transportation system — the fifth busiest rapid transit system in the country — shuts down.

But instead of focusing on why there’s a BART strike and what’s at stake for the workers, some people on Twitter took to complaining about their extra long commute. Even worse, the media too focused heavily on  the lengthy commute today and providing alternative routes instead of on the important stuff. … Typical.

BART officials have played into this by offering apologies, blaming the unions and ‘doing their best’ to provide alternative transit options. But when people become over-concerned about an inconvenience, they forget that these brave BART workers are, in essence, fighting for all workers. And they are certainly forgetting that if BART truly cared about their riders, they would have negotiated properly before their workers contract expired.

7. Silicon Valley capitalizes on the strike.

But perhaps even more insensitive than Bay Area residents and media outlets are the techies in Silicon Valley, who are exploring ways to profit off of the BART strike. One company is even promoting helicopter rides from between San Francisco and the East Bay. As Gawker reported, “Here's how thinking about the world works in Silicon Valley: when public transportation is disrupted (in the old sense) due to labor disputes, that's not an inconvenience! It's an opportunity to plug your app and offer helicopter rides— literally fly over society's problems.

Reports state that currently no talks are scheduled, and therefore, the strike will continue.

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

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