You are here

Why Environmentalists Need to Support Transit Workers' Struggles - Solidarity With Bay Area Transit Workers!

By x344543 and x363464 - October 1, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In the San Francisco Bay Area union workers at BART and AC Transit are embroiled in bitter contract fights with their bosses. Details on these struggles can be found at the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC) site:

Without going into a long analysis why we know this to be true (TWSC has already done that) we simply assert that the demands for concessions by the BART and AC Transit bosses is a result of the austerity measures being demanded of the 99% by the employing class in order for the latter to shore up their sinking capitalist ship.

Rank and file transit workers are organizing a militant response in the face of repression from their bosses (and the wider capitalist class in general) as well as the class collaborationist bureaucrats in their AFL-CIO unions, who simply cannot accept that this assault on the basic rights and livelihoods of trhese workers is happening.

Environmentalists should support the transit workers and oppose the bosses for the following reasons:

  • (1) Contrary to the information you might get from the capitalist media, these workers are not greedy and overpaid. In the Bay Area, an urban megalopolis with one of the highest costs of living in the US, these workers--on average--are barely making enough to survive.
  • (2) The bosses' latest contract offers are full of concessionary demands, and their wage offer amount to a pay cut.
  • (3) The transit bosses are following a pattern being followed by public agencies around the US of funding cuts, union busting, service cutbacks, outsourcing, and privatization.
  • (4) All of these are linked and are part of the systemic functions of capitalism which demands that wealth be continually transferred from the working class to the employing class.
  • (5) Capitalism cannot be reformed and cannot be effectively regulated. Even if temporarily constrained as it was in the Keynesian era, it ultimately seeks a way out of those constraints. Only working class solidarity and organization can effectively check and overcome the power of the employing class.
  • (6) Capitalism is inherently anti-ecological.
  • (7) Because an attack on the transit workers by the employing class enables the latter further, the bosses' actions are also an attack on the environment.
  • Negative consequences to the environment from the bosses actions have and will continue to manifest themselves thusly:

    • Cuts in service (resulting in lower ridership and increased use of personal automobile usage);
    • Cuts in maintenance which risks the safety of workers and commuters as well as causing increased long term wear and tear;
    • Less expansion of service to much needed areas;
    • Anti environmental practices within each agency.
  • (9) The arguments made by the bosses that the above conditions are caused by "workers' greed" are bogus. The bosses make far more by comparison and the real issue is one of allocation of adequate public funds.

Public transit is essential to fighting climate change and environmental destruction.

It serves as a much more efficient alternative to personal automobile use in numerous ways, including energy efficiency, less emission of GHG, and usage of less space and land. Furthermore, public transit effectively reduces congestion among those who still use automobiles thus increasing the efficiency already mentioned above. (Claims to the contrary, that on average, transit usage doesn't reduce congestion do not account for commuter peaks).

Most importantly, public transit potentially leads to vast improvements in urban design to the point of reversing the effects of urban sprawl.

All of these issues are class issues as well. Public transit is often the only mode of transportation available to working people, and higher costs and decreased availability limit the power of workers to survive. When fares are increased and service is cut, it's never done to pay for "greedy transit workers salaries", but rather to pay for expensive projects that serve wealthy suburbanites or managers' salary increases. While strikes in service may be a temporary inconvenience to them, the long term disruption caused by poor service and cutbacks to routes serving working people and people of color, institutionalized in the system by capitalist policies, do far more damage.

For these reasons, we urge workers and environmentalists everyone to show their solidarity with the struggling Bay Area public transit workers as well as transit workers everywhere!

For news and details, visit

Labor actions coming up the week of Sept. 30 and Oct. 7

We recognize that these events are being posted on short notice, but the urgency of the matter demands that we post them and mobilize as many supporters as possible

Defend BART/Public Workers & All Private Sector Workers Speak-Out & Press Conference - United We Stand Divided We Fall!

WHEN: Tuesday October 1, 2013 5:00 PM
WHERE: 450 Civic Center Plaza Richmond, California

On Tuesday October 1 at Richmond City Hall there will be a press conference and solidarity rally for the BART ATU 1555, SEIU 1021 and AFSCME 3993 workers and against the attack on all public workers and public services.

The BART managers have spent $400,000 on Thomas Hock of the Veolia Transportation company to break the union. This company is involved in privatization of public services and transportation in the bay area, nationally and internationally. The BART board is also demanding that workers take a pay cut to pay for new trains when they have a surplus of $125 million. There should be a transit tax on the developers, corporations and billionaires who benefit from BART.

If BART wins, managers in every public agency will be making the same demands against all other public workers in Northern California.
Additionally, BART has bullied their employees and fired strike leaders such as ATU 1555 member George Figueroa on trumped up charges and also pressed criminal charges against this union leader.

Richmond city workers will also speak about the workplace bullying by Richmond City managers which continues unabated despite the removal of the Human Resources Director Leslie Knight. There is also an attack on public education through privatization and charters to bust up public education in Richmond backed by Meg Whitman.

The rally will be held before the Richmond City Council meeting which is at 6:00 PM.

Many employees are under assault including workers in Richmond who have faced systemic bullying by management past and present. Politicians such as BART Board representative from Contra Costa County Zakhary Mallett is joining in the attack on BART workers and it is time labor and the community elected labor and community candidates who will stand for working people and not on the developers and union
busters. We need a labor party to really represent working people. We also need to unite all public workers especially those without contracts to join BART workers on October 10 when they go out.

For more information from BART workers -

This rally is endorsed by United Public Workers For Action

For more information call 510-233-5820 or 415-282-1908

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee Meeting

WHEN: Wednesday, October 2, 7 PM
WHERE: West end of 7th St, Port View Park, Oakland, CA

We only have a three point agenda: BART, BART and more BART. Be there at the Seafarers' Center at the end of 7th St. in the port adjacent to Port View Park. We'll have plenty of BART workers' rally flyers for distribution and other literature.

International Day of Action for BART Workers At Twitter HQ #internationaldayforBARTworkers - Twitter BART Workers Support Rally / How Many More Billionaires Do We Need In San Francisco?

WHAT: Twitter & Rally - #StopUnionBusting/HandsOffBARTWorkers!
WHEN: Thursday October 3, 2013, 5:00 PM
WHERE: Twitter HQ 1355 Market St. San Francisco

Facebook Event Listing

Twitter, Ellison And Tech Billionaires Get Tax Subsidies And BART Transit And Public Workers Get Wage Cuts And Austerity What Is Wrong With This Picture?

While SF Mayor Ed Lee and the corporate controlled politicians give multimillion dollar subsidies to corporations like Twitter, Ellison and other tech companies, he and the BART Board of Directors are telling BART workers they have to take pay cuts and austerity. They have brought in Thomas P. Hock from Veolia Transportation at $400,000 to help bust the unions as he has done throughout the US and his company has done around the world. They also impose apartheid bus routes in the West Bank for big profits.

Its time to make the corporations, millionaires and billionaires in San Francisco pay for public transit and public services. We demand an end to the tax subsidies for Twitter, the corporations and developers in downtown San Francisco. We demand a transit tax to fund BART, MUNI and to lower the fare for working people and the poor and paid for by these twitter and vulture capitalist speculators. The Hearst owned SF Chronicle wants anti-strike legislation while making tens of millions on property speculation while driving working people and the poor out of San Francisco. Its time to let the Twittery know enough is enough!

For more information from BART workers -

This rally is endorsed by the Gray Panthers and United Public Workers For Action

For endorsement and info call (415)282-1908

Press Conference and Speak-out At Transit Agency SamTrans Headquarters Stop Workplace Bullying/Retaliation At SamTrans-SamTrans Bosses And Managers Bullying Workers To Cover-up Corruption

WHEN - October 7, 2012, 4:00 PM
WHERE - SamTrans Headquarters, 1250 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos

Public worker whistle-blowers at SamTrans have documented a record of malfeasance and falsification involving millions of dollars of public funds going to cronies and friends of managers with the complicity of Samtrans transportation officials who also sit on boards in San Mateo County. Instead of investigating this criminal cover-up, the agency bosses have bullied and retaliated against whistle-blowers at the agency. This is not unique since there is an epidemic of bullying against public and private workers in the workplace.

For more details Visit This Page

An attack on BART workers is an attack on all workers!

WHAT: Rally to defend the health and Safety of our community
WHEN: October 8th - 5 PM
WHERE: Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway in Oakland

Facebook Event Listing


The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.