Contemplating Solutions

Economic recovery cannot be possible without supersizing wages and ameliorating the unequal and inadequate pay of low-wage occupations.

In these challenging economic times, middle-class jobs are disappearing and being replaced by low-wage jobs. Many individuals are unable to make ends meet and turn to low-wage jobs to get by. Several of these workers are vulnerable, and in some cases desperate. All of them should be able to work hard and get ahead.

More than 4 Million people work in the food service industry. The average age of these workers is 28 with a median wage of $9.08 an hour. These wages fall far below the federal poverty line for a worker who is able to work 40 hours a week, without ever getting sick.

Meanwhile, corporate profits are at an all time high. McDonald’s earned $5.5 Billion dollars in profits alone last year; other fast-food chains were similarly profitable. These multi-billion dollar industries exploit low-pay workers within a structure that perpetuates power and income inequality.

Significantly, the East Bay is becoming an increasingly difficult place for low-pay workers to live. Rents in Oakland have risen 15% in the first quarter of 2013 alone.  Oakland has one of the highest unemployment rates amongst African American’s and Latinos in the Country. A strong economic recovery in Oakland, and nationally, is not possible without higher wages.

Across the country fast-food workers have come together to demand higher pay, benefits, and better working conditions. As it happens, union organizing has commenced at 218 East Bay fast food stores [Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s]. Our ability to be successful on this campaign will depend on our ability to unite and support these workers in efforts to obtain higher pay.


This strike today is for a living wage, workers rights as human rights, and for a collective vision of democracy for all!!!

By Ethel Long-Scott,
Executive Director of Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP)

You didn’t ask for this strike. You were pushed into it by a BART management determined to change the American dream into a Corporate dream/Heaven.

The news reports are full of angry comments from inconvenienced riders. Why aren’t they on YOUR side? Why don’t they think train operators who take many trainloads of them safely every day to where they need to go deserve decent wages and working conditions? Why aren’t they concerned about the safe and clean working conditions?  Who has convinced them that the contract give-backs you sacrificed last time was not for the public good?

If you listen for it you will hear a giant sucking sound. It’s the sound of corporate America in league with the Wall St. Banksters sucking the money out of the pockets of working families, sucking the life out of the American worker for their own enrichment.

LISTEN… You can hear it in Michigan, where Emergency Financial Mangers’s have stripped all the power away from elected mayors and city councils in cities that workers built with hard labor.

LISTEN… You can hear it when the Koch brothers get together with their ALEC friends to draft more legislation to cripple the public services in American cities.

LISTEN… You can hear it when banksters like Wells Fargo, Chase Bank and others sucker American cities like Birmingham, San Bernadino, And Stockton and Oakland into bailing out the Banksters and pushing Bart Workers into this Strike.

LISTEN… You can hear it in the halls of BART management when they refuse for weeks on end to sit down at the negotiating table with you to prevent a strike. . . .  Just like Congress and their sequesters, government shutdowns and deeper cuts to the tattered Safety Net. . . They are gunning for workers any way they can, everywhere they can.

LISTEN… We hear the message about AUSTERITY, this illusion of a lack of resources to justify cuts to poor people and workers.  We know there’s NEVER a lack of money for the banksters and their corporate cronies!

We Know: This idea of scarcity is being generated by the 1% in order to cut back on public resources and shrink who is deserving of resources,

We Know:  Private corporations are raking in record profits BUT workers are scrimping, because computerized machines are replacing human workers  … this is not a winning strategy for the Bay Area, not for those of us employed and those of us unemployed.

We Know: Corporations created the economic crash by creating fraudulent debt deals. They were bailed out dollar for dollar, while cities and workers are left to pay back the debt.

We Know: There are better answers than starving workers to feed corporate coffers.

We Know: Every person in the US pays sales tax. In California, it’s 9¾ %. However, “corporate persons” pay no taxes on their financial transactions. This is why a “Robin Hood Tax” would immediately provide billions of dollars to take care of every budget crisis.

We Know: Wall Street has been the greatest profit-making sector of the US economy since 2000. In 1973, financial returns were 16% of total corporate profits; by 2007, they reached 41%!

We Know: Corporations are taking control and ownership of resources (“privatization”) that were once publicly owned like schools, healthcare, pensions, jobs, housing & yes transportation.

We know: These corporations are seeking to make all the private sector looks like WalMart and the Public Sector all look like Detroit, Benton Harbor & Flint, Michigan.

We Know:  For all these reasons the stand by the BART Workers, public sector workers, is a stand to defend all of our hard fought battles for things like education, health care, democracy and safety and keeping those resources OUT OF THE HANDS of private, individual interests and companies that only have one thing in mind: profit.

We Know: That this BART strike is about rejecting Austerity for all workers, employed and unemployed.

Because we know that an injury to one is an injury to all your strike today is fight of a life time to reject the KOCH BROTHERS & their billionaire cronies making California their latest conquest.  This time it’s all us or none of us!  Victory to the BART public sector workers, rescind corporate personhood and fight for the Economic Democracy we need to thrive!

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