Saturday, June 29, 2013

Will Jerry Brown stop a BART strike so a deal can be made?

A quick note:

According to local news outlets, transit union officials have asked California governor Jerry Brown to impose a 60 day cooling off period, in other words to "stay" a strike.  I tried to locate the source of this story which was the San Jose Mercury news but couldn't access the page.  Assuming it is the case which isn't surprising, it is normal procedure.

Union officials have no intention of waging a serious strike in defense of their members' wages and benefits, the hope is that the threat of one would bring fewer concessions than the bosses are asking for. If they were serious about a strike, the Alameda Labor Council would have been approached by delegates from the unions, SEIU, ATU, Afscme etc. and urged to help prepare for a Bay Area strike not simply to defend transit workers living standards but to improve on them.

If the Union leadership were serious about a strike there would have been mass meetings of the members of the locals involved to strengthen their unity around demands that affect all of them and serious efforts would have been made to build links with the communities they serve to develop demands that would improve public transportation for the general public including seniors and the disabled  Free transportation for seniors and the disabled, more routes, increased services, more jobs etc. Issues appealing to the needs of the community must be laid on the table and community/labor meetings called to develop a strategy and mass direct action tactics that can win them; every Labor dispute must reach out to the communities we live and work in and the struggle generalized.  In the case of the public sector in particular, we cannot win without the public, we can't win the rest of the working class to our side and counter the propaganda of the bosses portraying themselves as the forces that "care" without fighting for that public and using our economic muscle to enforce our will on the 1%.

The Union leaders appealing to Jerry Brown who is savaging workers living standards on behalf of the corporations is a serious mistake.  I was at the AC transit meeting Wednesday and the mood was very strong for a struggle and to fight back.  The 1% and their representatives which is who we're dealing with here, don't impose cooling off periods when they send their troops in to war, it is an attempt by the Union leadership to derail a confrontation for three months, allow the workers to "cool off" or lose the momentum and hope that the governor and the representatives of the 1% will allow some deal to go through.

If the cooling off period is asked for because the strategists atop the Unions have decided they made a mistake in not preparing adequately beforehand and want more time to prepare for a serious struggle that would be a positive thing but history teaches me different.  My guess is that  Brown will comply and they'll work out some deal behind the scenes and another opportunity to change the course of recent history with regard to labor/management relations will be missed.

All workers will lose.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

1 comment:

Matthew Hougey said...

It would be an absolute shame for BART workers to not take this opportunity to lead and set an example for all workers in the Bay Area the value of direct action. Maybe it is time for BART workers to act on their own and not follow the dictates of worthless union masters.