Bay Area Council Blog: Newsroom Archive

Bart Strike

Bay Area Council Poll Shows Resounding Opposition to BART Strike

The Bay Area Council today (August 2) released results of a poll showing overwhelming opposition to a BART worker strike, with a strong majority saying that workers are fairly compensated and an even larger number saying that BART should invest any available funds in upgrading and expanding the aging system.

The poll of 475 residents living in counties directly served by BART found that 70 percent of respondents oppose a strike and that 92 percent think a strike will have a significant impact on the economy. A recent Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimate conservatively put the economic impact of a BART strike at $73 million a day in lost worker productivity.

“It’s time to end the strike talk, approve the contract BART has proposed and focus on how we’re going to meet BART’s awesome infrastructure needs,” Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which sponsored the survey with support from the Jobs and Housing Coalition in Oakland. “The poll results send a powerful message that a vast majority of residents want BART management to hold the line on rising compensation costs.”

Respondents had strong opinions about BART worker compensation. The $80,000 median annual salary that BART workers currently earn makes them among the best-paid mass transit workers in the nation and among the highest-paid public employees in the Bay Area. The poll included only general questions and did not provide any detailed information about contract proposals, current compensation or other information.

A decisive 69 percent of poll respondents disagreed that BART workers are under-compensated. BART workers currently do not pay anything into their pensions and contribute only $92 a month for health benefits for themselves and an unlimited number of family members. The costs for health care have been steadily rising.

With one of the chief disagreements between BART and the unions over where the transit agency should spend money, a resounding 85 percent of respondents said that BART should use available funding to invest in infrastructure needs. BART operates with the oldest mass transit rail cars in the country and is facing infrastructure needs of $5 billion in the next six years and more than $15 billion over the next 20 years. In a separate question, the poll found that just 41 percent of respondents agreed that BART should spend available funds on worker compensation.

“No matter how you slice it, Bay Area residents appear to understand just how critical BART’s infrastructure needs are and that in the context of the good pay workers currently earn residents clearly prioritize investing in upgrading and expanding the system,” Wunderman said.

Among other results, 62 percent of Democrats said they oppose a strike. Among the 33 percent of respondents who said they either belong to a union or have a family member that belongs to a union, 60 percent said they oppose a strike.

The results come a day after the Bay Area Council issued a public statement urging BART workers to accept the transit agency’s most recent contract offer, calling BART’s proposal for a modest pay raise and increased contributions for pension and health benefits fair and reasonable, and imploring workers not to go on strike.

“The fact is that BART workers already enjoy the best overall compensation package of almost any mass transit worker in the state and possibly the nation,” Wunderman said. “Asking them to accept a modest pay increase, contribute to their pensions and share the burden of rising health care costs is fair, and what BART has proposed appears to be eminently reasonable. It would be irresponsible for BART to agree to a contract that is not fiscally sustainable.”

Awareness of the issue is high, with 94 percent saying they knew about the possibility of a BART strike. The web-based poll conducted by respected EMC Research of Oakland included 475 respondents from four counties within BART’s immediate service area, including Alameda (37%), Contra Costa (25%), San Francisco (22%) and San Mateo (17%) counties. It was conducted on Thursday, August 1 and included an overall margin of error of +/-4.5 percent.

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Virgin America CEO David Cush Takes Over as Chair of Bay Area Council

With the ceremonial passing of an oversized gavel, Virgin America President and CEO David Cush on July 18 became the 36th Chair of the Bay Area Council in its 67-year history. Cush takes over from Janet Lamkin, California State President of Bank of America. Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman praised Lamkin for her leadership over the past two years, during which the Bay Area Council dramatically expanded its presence and influence. “Janet was instrumental in both growing the organization and re-focusing our work on the critical economic issues that matter to business, the region and California,” Wunderman said. “She leaves a tremendous legacy.” During her tenure, the Bay Area Council opened new offices in Sacramento and China, and was named by Governor Jerry Brown to lead the state’s new California-China Trade and Investment Office. The Council also achieved important statewide pension reform legislation last year, helped win $1.5 billion in funding for Caltrain and high speed rail and played a leading role in guiding the state’s healthcare reform. In taking over the reins, Cush talked about deepening the organization’s policy work and growing the Council’s Economic Institute. As President and CEO of Virgin America, the innovative Cush has led the fledgling airline to record-setting growth and made the carrier a global model for providing top customer service. “David is a transformational leader who will bring to the Bay Area Council a unique combination of creativity, energy and focus on fundamental business practices,” Wunderman said.

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Here’s an Idea: No BART Strike

News stories began appearing late this week about contingency planning for a second BART strike, which could come on Monday, August 4. Of course, the best plan would be to avoid a strike altogether. The 4½-day strike earlier this month wasted an estimated $330 million in lost economic productivity, according to figures provided by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. That didn’t include millions in sales revenue that small businesses lost because many of the hundreds of thousands of workers and others that rely on BART daily remained at home rather than battle traffic and over-packed transit. Nor does it include the tens of millions of dollars that regional transportation authorities will have to divert from existing transit programs to pay for additional bus and ferry service.

Some union officials have loudly suggested that a second strike could be even worse than the first one, and back-and-forth exchanges between the two sides this week suggested that they remain far apart on an agreement. Wages and benefits have been the main issues, although details of any current offers haven’t been available since a state mediator stepped in. A big question involves what constitutes fair compensation for BART workers, who currently earn an average of $80,000 a year in pay and $130,000 overall when benefits are added in. That puts them among the best-paid transit workers in the nation, and gives them an average salary that exceeds the Bay Area average of $64,000. BART workers also contribute nothing to their pensions and pay $92 a month for health benefits.

The Bay Area Council believes workers deserve fair compensation that is consistent with what other transit and public employees earn, reflects current fiscal realities and BART’s awesome capital needs and doesn’t burden riders with additional fare increases. Unions had been demanding a 21% pay increase over four years to make up for several years without increases. BART was offering 8%. Unions also reportedly rejected calls that workers contribute to their pensions and pick up a greater share of rising health costs. With an estimated $5 billion in immediate infrastructure needs, including replacing the nation’s oldest fleet of mass transit rail cars, and $15 billion needed over the next 15-20 years, BART is focused on directing more funding to these capital improvements.

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Ellison, Jobs to be Inducted to Bay Area Business Hall of Fame

The Bay Area Council this week announced Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Apple Founder Steve Jobs (posthumously) will be 2013 inductees to the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, which for the past 18 years has recognized the accomplishments and contributions of Bay Area business titans who have built some of the world’s most recognized and respected companies and brands. Ellison and Jobs, who were close friends, will be honored at the Bay Area Council’s Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame gala on Thursday, November 7 in San Francisco. Invitations to the event will be going out in the coming weeks.

“Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are transformational, larger-than-life business leaders whose genius, determination and audacity have defined and will continue to define a Bay Area culture of innovation, entrepreneurialism and success that is admired and emulated around the globe,” Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said. “Steve Jobs is no longer with us, but his influence as the co-founder and visionary force behind one of the world’s most iconic companies and brands places him among the greatest business leaders and most brilliant thinkers of all time,” Wunderman said. “Larry Ellison through his force of will and keen intellect almost single-handedly pioneered the commercial software industry, ushering in the age of global e-commerce and forever changing how companies do business.”

Jobs, who died in October 2011, co-founded Apple in 1977 and served as CEO and Chairman. Ellison co-founded Oracle in 1977 and has built the company into one of the world’s largest computer hardware and software companies. Ellison and Jobs join an esteemed list of Bay Area business luminaries that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, including William Hewlett and David Packard, Gap Chairman Donald Fisher, George Lucas, Sun Microsystems Chairman and Co-Founder Scott McNealy, Charles Schwab, Intel Co-Founder Gordon Moore, and Adobe Systems Founder John Warnock, among many others. For information about the event and to become a sponsor, contact Communications Manager Virginia Dawson.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL LEADS TECH COALITION ON PRIVATE EMPLOYER SHUTTLE ISSUE

The Bay Area Council is leading a coalition of tech and other companies that is working with the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority to develop a plan for managing how private employer shuttles operate in the city. At a hearing this week to review the draft plan, the Bay Area Council called it a positive first step and outlined a number of areas for further discussion. With rapid employment growth, a growing number of sectors have turned to private shuttles to supplement public transit service between San Francisco and other parts of the region. In San Francisco alone, 35,000 residents use shuttles to get to work. With many shuttles using existing public transit stops, the MTA is trying to develop a framework to improve coordination and reduce potential conflicts. We look forward to working with MTA and the city to resolve a number of questions about the draft plan, including those related to dedicated stops, enforcement, and schedule coordination. The shuttles are estimated to eliminate 20 million vehicle miles of travel each year, reducing traffic and carbon emissions. To engage with us on this issue, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

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BART STRIKE HAVING COSTLY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ON BAY AREA

The strike by BART union workers is having a costly environmental impact on the Bay Area, according to data assembled by the Bay Area Council that shows increased traffic congestion is generating almost 16 million pounds of carbon, and wasting almost 800,000 gallons of gas every day at a cost of almost $3.3 million.

“The BART union strike is not only increasing congestion on our roads, it’s polluting our air,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “BART plays a valuable role in removing cars from the road and the greenhouse gas emissions they generate. With more cars on the road and idling in traffic, this strike is taking a severe economic toll on the region and it’s harming our environment.”

The Bay Area Council used traffic and emissions data from the Texas Transportation Institute to develop its estimates. The 16.2 million pounds of additional carbon being generated as a result of the strike is equal to the weight of 267 BART cars or almost 7.4 metric tons.

The environmental cost comes on top of the $73 million a day that the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates the BART union strike is costing the region in lost worker productivity. That economic impact is a very conservative estimate and doesn’t include direct economic activity that could add tens of millions of dollars to the cost.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL ECONOMIC INSTITUTE PUTS ECONOMIC COST OF BART STRIKE AT $73 MILLION A DAY

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute conservatively put the daily economic cost to the Bay Area of the BART union strike at $73 million a day, as the region reels from the loss of its most critical mass transit system. The figure includes only the cost of lost worker productivity, and doesn’t include the cost of overall lost economic activity.

“The Bay Area economy is suffering, along with hundreds of thousands of commuters,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council and our 250 members companies implore the BART unions to end this damaging strike and return to the bargaining table, and we urge both sides to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.”

The $73 million figure includes the cost associated with reduced productivity among workers delayed in traffic or forced into longer commutes on other forms of transit. The Bay Area Council expects the figure would be considerably higher if it factored in lost economic activity from workers and others whose spending is reduced because they stayed home or altered their normal routines. It also doesn’t include increased fuel costs related to traffic delays. The figures also assume that employees who are working at home rather than going into the office are maintaining the same level of productivity.

“There is an additional hit to economic activity that we know is happening but which we can’t easily quantify, but which could add tens of millions of dollars to the total,” Wunderman said. “The solution is simple: End the strike and get back to the bargaining table.”

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Optimism for Obama, Xi Summit

The Bay Area Council looks forward to open and productive talks between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping when they meet tomorrow in California to discuss the relationship between our two countries.

“The future of the United States and China are inextricably linked and have major implications for California’s economic future,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “California as the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim is one of the nation’s top trading partners with China and looks to China as a vital partner in growing the state’s exports and creating opportunities for investment. Establishing free and open trade between our two countries can create jobs and lead to economic growth for decades to come.”

Obama’s meeting with Xi comes a little over a month after the Bay Area Council, in its role operating the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, organized a trade and investment mission to China led by Governor Jerry Brown. The eight-day trip included more than 90 top business, economic development and government leaders, made stops in four cities and announced a series of trade and investment deals totaling billions of dollars. The visit also included the official opening of California’s first trade office in China in 10 years and meetings with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and many other top government officials.

Growing trade and investment with China for years has been a lead priority for the Bay Area Council, which operates its own offices in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

In advance of tomorrow’s summit, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman has authored an article calling for the two world leaders to include among their discussion points the negotiation of a formal free trade agreement between the U.S. and China.

Read Jim Wunderman’s article promoting a U.S.-China free trade agreement.

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2013 Outlook Conference Talks Now on YouTube, Flickr

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks about past presidents and the operation to capture Osama bin Laden. Gov. Jerry Brown argues for more equity in school funding. And SF Giants CEO Larry Baer and SF 49ers CEO Jed York talk about the Bay Area’s booming professionals sports industry. View all the videos and photos from the 2013 Outlook Conference presented by Dignity Health.

Leon Panetta keynote address

Leon Panetta Q&A with Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean

Gov. Jerry Brown in conversation with BAC Chair Janet Lamkin

The Governor talks about his new school funding plan and his recent trade mission to China, among other topics.

Jed York and Larry Baer on The Business of Winning

The two CEOs give their insights on the Bay Area’s winning ways and how we sustain it.

Social media driving political change

Tech blogger and entrepreneur Michael Arrington leads a talk with angel investor Ron Conway, musician MC Hammer and former Google products manager Hunter Walk.

Powering California’s Economy

Sen. Alex Padilla talks energy and innovation with PG&E executive Geisha Williams, Echelon CEO Ron Sege and Enphase Energy CEO Paul Nahi.

Healthcare: A Tectonic Shift

Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich joins Safeway’s Kent Bradley, Dignity Health’s Michael Blaszyk and Wells Fargo’s Keith Grundy for a conversation on the coming health care changes.

See a gallery of photos from 2013 Outlook Conference.

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KAISER PERMANENTE’S GEORGE HALVORSON NAMED TO FIRST 5 COMMISSION

California’s youngest learners got some good news with Governor Jerry Brown’s appointment on May 30 of Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson to the First 5 California Commission. As a member of the Bay Area Council Executive Committee and Chair of our Early Childhood Education Committee, Halvorson has been a champion of our efforts to improve early childhood education. First 5 is focused on educating parents and caregivers about the important role they play in their children’s first years and providing services and support that are designed to ensure that more children are born healthy and reach their full potential. In a statement applauding Halvorson’s appointment, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said: “George Halvorson is a visionary leader and consensus builder who understands there is almost no better investment we can make in our future than investing early in the health and education of all children.” To engage in our early childhood education policy work, contact Vice President Matt Regan.