OK, I admit it. I’m lazy. Like most people in the Bay Area, I felt a need to form an opinion about an indefinite interruption of service by BART that was looming earlier this month. But I also felt insufficient motivation to investigate the chronic labor-management conflict at BART in enough detail to assure that my opinion would be informed.
So, I took the easy way out. I selected a single issue out of the many and based my opinion on that.
Voilà. My issue was the union demand that BART reopen the toilet rooms in BART stations that it has closed, allegedly for reasons of “security”.
To be specific, I quote from a BART management document. Dated 6 August 2013, it lists “Currently Outstanding SEIU, Local 1021 Proposals to the District”. Of these, the first is: “Patron Safety in Stations and Facilities- The Union proposes to open public bathrooms in conflict with the District’s longstanding security policies.”
Based purely on that issue, and on BART management’s arrogant framing of it, I hereby opine that the unions are right, BART is wrong, and BART deserves a strike that will not stop until that demand, at least, is conceded by BART.
My reasoning is simple. Sanitation (i.e. access to convenient and sanitary facilities where one can urinate, defecate, wash dirty hands, and get a drink of clean water) is a universal human right. It was recognized as such by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 July 2010. BART should respect that right by providing toilets on its trains, but it doesn’t. BART also has refused to consider equipping the new rail cars that it is about to procure with toilets. This despite the fact that it can take up to an hour and a half to make a one-way trip on BART. So, as an alternative, BART should respect the right to sanitation by providing toilet facilities on the paid side of each station, so a passenger can take a sanitation break along the way. But BART does that only at some stations, not all. The striking unions are demanding that BART reopen toilets where it has closed them, and BART is refusing. The unions are fighting for the sanitation rights of us passengers, while BART’s management is infringing those rights.
Passengers are wimps. They should be organizing and striking against BART (or conducting station pee-ins) to protect their own rights, but they don’t. At least the unions are not so timid.