click on right to explore other union employee positions
include a second income earner
"The average BART employee makes 80k a year"
I started hearing this phrase over and over again when the first BART strike began in July. Like many others, I was outraged; how dare these workers inconvenience my commute when they're making so much already? And then I started to realize that there must be so much more to the story.
For one, the cost of living in the Bay Area is ridiculous. 80k is very reasonable if you are only supporting yourself, but for a lot of BART workers that may not be the case. They likely have families to support. For another, what does 80k really mean? Is it the average of their base salaries or their total costs of employment? And who are included in this average? Certainly, if management salaries are included, it'd unreasonably skew the data!
And thus I have attempted to gather here the Bay Area costs of living, past and present BART and union negotiations, and union employee salaries, in the hopes of better understanding the situation.
The employee positions listed on this page are of those most commonly affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the two unions in negotiations with BART. The only exception is Management, who are all non-SEIU and non-ATU. To obtain the figures, I filtered employees by their union association, and discarded any positions with less than 50 employees. The resulting positions are listed with their employee count in paranthesis, and the average base salary in bold.
I have also grouped employee income (both present and future), by the following categories:
The cost of living data were gathered from Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator, which assumes a secure but modest standard of living for their families. Furthermore, EPI assumes the head of a single-parent family to be employed, and both of the parents of a two-parent family to be employed. This causes a discrepancy in the bar graph, as the cost of living figures assume all parents to be working, but the income assumes only one working parent. To remedy this, I have implemented a toggle for including a second source of income, defaulted at $37,215 - an average of the median per capita income from San Francisco, Alameda, Solano, and Santa Clara counties.
Another point to note is that the Budget Calculator takes into account cost of insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, while BART employees pay a flat rate of $92 a month towards medical insurance which is not reflected in the calculations for the bar graph. For this reason, the individual costs are editable, so that a user may input and explore whatever costs they feel reasonable.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_area#Politics which references "2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates"...which is currently down.
I assumed an inflation rate of 2% over each year by eyeballing the US Inflation Calculator.
The proposal information were perhaps the most difficult to gather; no one source (or even multiple sources) gave a straight forward run-down of proposals from either sides, and for that reason this section has the most uncertainty.
None of this would have been possible if not for the amazing Bay Area d3 User Group, and in particular Ian Johnson and Lewis Lehe who organized the Hack the BART Strike project that this is a part of. The visualizations that have been birthed from this project can be found here, and gives a very good holistic view of the BART strike situation. There is also a rich repository of data and information contributed by various members of the user group for anyone interested in creating their own visualizations.
The BART strike is a very complicated issue with many moving parts and emotions, and this simple infographic has only covered a tiny bit of the issues at hand. It does not attempt to shed light on the whole picture. Instead, it was created as a tool for exploration, in the hopes that it will give the public a chance to form their own opinions. As such, the accuracy of the assumptions I have made are very important, and because I am in no way an expert, I would love (really desperately need, actually) feedback of any kind.