My 3% (as opposed to $.02 cents)

I recall a former train controller trainee, when asked how he heard about the job, he Googled $100,000 BART jobs and was surprised to find an Excel file that held his answer. Being inside the proverbial “glass house” and looking out I think I am paid very well for what I do on a daily basis. Looking at this realistically coming from an airline that has been sliding downhill since 1999 (or a few years prior) I felt very fortunate to be hired. My pay had been reduced nearly 35% over the course of 4 years at United, in addition to furloughs and changes and more job responsibilities.

The hiring process at BART was long and the training even longer and more stressful than I ever imagined. I believe I earned every penny I was offered. Still do in fact. Now that the media has made all 3,200 BART employee salaries available via an organized database that can search by last name, department or job title. Amazingly enough each work has their pay broken down based on gross, net, overtime and other pay. Wow! Who would think the entire world could know how much I make. Again though, I stand by my previous comment, I believe I am worth every penny I make.

While the job I do is not for everyone, there is a very high (70%) failure rate for candidates who just cannot make the grade and end up failing out of training. Again, I should know because at a few points during training I could have been a statistic. Thankfully after countless discussions with managers and trainers I was able to refocus and adequately demonstrate my learned abilities to be certified. This was not a simple process. I don’t ever recall having such a difficult time during training, this training was different.

I won’t comment on the unions and their proposal for a 3% raise. Would it be nice? Sure, it would. Can I live without it, yup. I am more worried about medical benefits and retirement more so than giving concessions for a 3% raise of a proposed 2 year period. We all know the economy will turn around and the current situation will get better for everyone. Hopefully I don’t find myself walking a line with a sign in my hands because that is the last place I expect to be. I would much rather be at work, helping patrons get to work by keeping all the trains moving.

“Negotiate in Good Faith”

Seeing as I am employed by BART, I must tread very careful when it comes to voicing MY opinion on MY web site. Years ago I wrote myself in trouble while at the airlines over MY opinion regarding some specific flights and the reasons they were usually late. Of course this did not go over well with management, even if it was the truth. As they say, the truth CAN hurt.

This is my first time at BART that I have had to go through contract negotiations. Let me preface this by saying, I am not privy to the actual meetings between management and the unions, but hear though a few mouthpieces of our union how things are proceeding. If you believe the media, then nothing is going right. Then again, who actually gives a shit what local media says? I for one, don’t.

I do recall four years ago when I was still a BART patron, employed by the airlines and I say the strike looming and suddenly another fare increase. It pissed me off! Unlike this go around, the economy was a bit stronger 4 years ago and while raises were included in the new contract for employees, this time around is different.

I make no bones about it, I am paid well for what I do. I have big responsibilities as a Train Controller, as I have been well trained (13 months of training), take my job serious, work safe and hopefully make a difference in how the system runs when I am working on shift. All that said, patrons seem to have an entirely different take of the situation.

To their credit I understand where they are coming from. As a patron I would observe the “front line employees” I interacted with on a daily basis, from train operator to station agent and formed opinions. These were the main employees I dealt with. Much like the airlines, you form opinions based on the experiences you have. It’s no wonder so many people I talked to hated United Airlines, because the front line employees didn’t give shit about who or what paid their salary.

I have spent too much time reading some of the rider web sites, BART Rage and BART Musings and while these are but a small cross section of the ridership, some are armed with incorrect information, others make compelling arguments but everyone wants to resolve the situation.

What does not help the matter is our the salaries of BART employees are available for everyone to see since we are subsidized by the government. As I understand it, management figures were released a week or so ago to the media and now the rest of the salaries for BART employees are viewable online (ah yes, isn’t America great?). Looking at the salaries of the different groups does not help the unions case, especially in these struggling economic times. Yet, as has been brought up many times before the pay and decisions by the BART Board of Directors has also been called into question by the public.

My hope is these negotiations are finalized and do not drag on because the last thing I want to think of doing is going on strike and taking time off from work. I have no desire to “walk the line” as they say. So please both sides lets get a contract done and continue to work.