Late last night in Oakland, unions representing employees of the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency agreed on a last-minute reprieve for the region's commuters. They would not go on strike this morning, following the end of a two-month cooling-off period mandated by the state's governor. But if the unions fail to reach an agreement with management in the next three days in the long-running battle over a new labor contract, trains will stop running on Monday.
It would be the second BART strike since July, and the latest upheaval for the Bay Area's commuters in a dispute that has dragged on for six months.
The unions are lobbying for their first pay raise in four years (the average non-management employee grossed $76,500 in pay last year). BART wants the workers to kick in more to their pensions (they currently contribute nothing) and health care (employees pay $92 a month for coverage no matter how many dependents they have). In public polls, BART riders have largely sided with management, which is arguing that it needs to redirect money from worker salaries and compensation to upgrade infrastructure.
If you're one of these commuters – or if you're just puzzled by what's at stake here from afar – this informative visualization from Victor Powell may clarify things. The Bay Area d3 User Group has created a wealth of visualizations using BART data to help locals comprehend the strike.
This one is really specific: It shows the name, job, union affiliation, salary and full cost of every BART worker involved in the dispute – union and management. You can also view the full visualization here.