The SEIU’s Bay Area Transit (BART) strike has been an enormous nuisance in San Francisco and the greater bay area including Silicon Valley. Given the region’s liberal tilt, most journalists have peppered their reports with a bias toward the SEIU and their politically active leaders.
Noah Rothman points out that tech entrepreneur and blogger Sarah Lacy has spoken out in an interview with Marketplace.org against the class-warfare rhetoric coming from the transportation unions:
If I had more friends who were BART drivers, I would probably be very sympathetic to their cause, and if they had more friends who were building companies they would probably realize we’re not all millionaires, and we’re actually working pretty hard to build something. People in the tech industry feel like life is a meritocracy. You work really hard, you build something and you create something, which is sort of directly opposite to unions.
That kind of clear thinking is bound to catch the ire of journalists who tend to support the SEIU at all times because, well, the SEIU supports Democrats. The response was immediate and over the top:
“Had to literally get up and walk away from my computer at the second Sarah Lacy quote.” – New York Magazine‘s Kevin Roose
“San Francisco used to be a great city, and now it is populated by Fountainhead enthusiasts who know how to run everything.” – The Awl’s Choire Sicha
As Rothman notes, Biddle continued with a diatribe that sounds like a speech that could be given by a union organizer using a bullhorn on the front lawn of a business owner:
A meritocracy! A meritocracy, in which anyone with a dream, a rarified education in computer science, and the kindness of a millionaire investor can make it. Fortunately Lacy isn’t friends with any of the slobs who spend their days operating (or riding!) the trains instead of engineering a website to make the trains obsolete–so their needs don’t register with her. Her friends are on the other side, in the industry she’s ostensibly covering. ‘We,’ not ‘they.’ She’s one of them–they’re just like her, and everyone else is just a clog in the disruption stream.”
To put all the histrionic hand-wringing in perspective, please take note of the horrible, oppressive work conditions these SEIU/BART employees have to endure: (H/T: The Daily Californian)
On average, BART operators of automated trains earn $30.22 per hour. Their work week only requires 37.5 hours, so a 40-hour schedule already has 2.5 hours of overtime built in. They only pay $92 a month toward their medical insurance plans, regardless of family size. They contribute nothing to their pension plan. Finally, there’s no limit to how much vacation time they can accrue (two years after she was forced to resign, former general manager Dorothy Dugger was still the top earner on BART’s payroll because she was cashing out 3,100 hours of unused time off). It’s no wonder that some Berkeley students have volunteered to fill in the vacancies — even a Cal degree will not usually earn you $30.22 per hour at the entry level!