The Bay Area is actually very large. Yes, there is life outside San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. I realize you may never have heard of any cities or towns outside these major population centers, but I promise you, it exists. Thousands of people live in places with names like "Albany," "Pleasant Hill," "Los Gatos," and "Hercules." I, myself, live in a city called "Concord," which used to be called, at various points in its history, "Canterbury," "Todo Santos," and "The Ass-End of Nowhere." The Bay Area contains mountains, small forests, inconveniently-placed hills, and lots of other quirky geography. Because of this, our roads and bridges are occasionally very odd, and do things that make little to no actual sense.
There are a multitude of ways to get around the Bay Area. If you're in the South Bay, you have CalTrain, a swift series of, well, trains that can get you to San Francisco. If you're in San Francisco, the odds are good that you never actually leave San Francisco, so your transit options are "car," "bus," "taxi," "foot," and "magic carpet." If you're in the East Bay, there's a good chance that you work in San Francisco or the Oakland/Berkeley area, and there is hence also a good chance that you depend on a magical thing called "BART" to get you to work each day.
BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit. It's the train system that covers most of San Francisco and the East Bay. It's also a contributing factor to Bay Area residents paying more per mile for public transit than almost anyone else in the world. I pay, quite literally, ten dollars a day for the privilege of leaving my house and going to work. (This assumes I'm not taking any buses, something that isn't always true during the rainy season.) And oh, right, they increased fares and cut back on service earlier this year—something most of us took with grumbling but no real complaint, because the economic realities of California are what they are. The system needs money to keep running. The money has to come from somewhere. Happy? No. Resigned? Yes.
Except now the union is threatening to strike Sunday at midnight. Happy? No. Resigned? No. Royally pissed off?
The union isn't striking for fair working conditions, human rights, or the other things that unions tend to justifiably strike for. The union is, near as I can tell, striking for the right to pretend that we're not in a recession while the system continues to reduce services and hike costs in order to pay for the concessions the union is demanding. I'm a union girl. About two-thirds of my family has or has had union jobs. Unions are amazing things, and without them, the conditions under which the average worker has to labor would be a hell of a lot worse. Even if you're in a non-union job, the odds are good that you've benefited from the unions of the past. If nothing else, unions are at least part of the reason you get things like "breaks" and "bathrooms." All that being said?
Screw you, BART union. I've read all the documentation I could, trying to find a way in which this wasn't an insane thing to do, and I haven't found it. Even my cousin who works for BART has no clue what the hell this is supposed to accomplish, beyond possibly getting a few station agents lynched by their neighbors. Because there is genuinely no way for people who live where I live and don't have access to a car to get to San Francisco without the train. The closest bus route I can put together would take four and a half hours just to get me to the point of being able to transfer to the Transbay Bus to fight the traffic caused by dumping the 350,000 daily BART commuters onto our already over-taxed bridges.
I'm lucky. I probably won't lose my job, even if the BART strike prevents me from getting to work for a few days. But the people who are temping? Working minimum wage janitorial jobs in the city, because they can't afford to live closer, and can't find work anywhere else? Flipping burgers, making smoothies, and doing the things people who can afford to live in San Francisco can also afford not to do? Those people are going to get fired if they can't reach the office because the trains aren't running.
Strikes are good. Strikes are necessary. But maybe striking during a recession when you're already making a living wage and aren't being actively abused in some way is a dick thing to do. And maybe doing it when you know it's going to cripple local transit and lose a lot of people their jobs is a double-dick thing to do. Just in case you were wondering.
Beware. For today I wear the cranky pants.