- If Commuters Only Knew -
(Far from a sure thing in my mind any longer, make sure to keep reading)
*I* know once Occupy Oakland decides to shut something down, it gets shut down. They shut down the Port of Oakland…twice.
I also know that when bridge closures are known to be happening, the public is made very aware of this ahead of time.
The above video is from footage I shot at the Golden Gate Labor Coaliton’s protest in San Francisco, CA on April 14th. The coalition is made up of 19 unions who run bridges, ferries and buses in the Golden Gate District.
The coalition has been bargaining (over 45 sessions) for a new contract for a year that they hope won’t include what the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is trying to include:
Cut-backs to family and retiree health care.
From the coalition’s April 23rd press release (via occupythebridge.org):
“The Labor Coalition has offered concessions worth an estimated $2 million each year. Although Golden Gate Bridge District management has acknowledged that the financial needs of the district have been met, they are still seeking to push the cost of health care onto workers and their families.”
The April 14th protest was to highlight one very specific service that would be disrupted should the workers continue to go without a contract. A special ferry that runs from the North Bay directly to AT&T park for Giants baseball games. Over 700 people take this ferry, and the march ended at the ferry landing where the coalition members took the opportunity to educate the Giants fans on how their current situation could effect them getting to the games.
Occupy was on hand to support during this march, and a vote took place the next day at the Occupy Oakland GA regarding support for the coalitions next protest…at the Golden Gate Bridge during May 1st’s General Strike. Another very calculated protest spot to highlight to commuters another way in which they benefit from the coalition members work.
The Occupy Oakland resolution (via occupythebridge.org):
“If any of the unions on the Golden Gate bridge declare a strike or shutdown action on May Day, we will act in solidarity with these striking workers and the international call for a general strike on May Day, by blockading the flow of capital to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. This will be accomplished by a collaboration of pickets and direct action which will shut down all modes of transportation from Marin to San Francisco”
Sure, the resolution begins with ‘If’ and the press release from the coalition speaks of a ‘possible’ strike…but anyone familiar with Bay Area Occupy knows a bridge shut-down is going to happen.
I became curious about how the commuters were going to be alerted to the inevitable shut-down, so I contacted Caltrans and MTC (who runs 511.org - and is fed it’s info by Caltrans & CHP) and asked what their plan was for getting this info to the public. Caltrans forwarded me to Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Her reply:
“Thanks for your inquiry…..Caltrans does not operate maintain the Golden Gate Bridge so your inquiry was forwarded to me here at the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. We are aware of the Internet chatter regarding the activity you reference. We obviously (due to our heightened security programs) have various protocols in place if something were to occur, but there is nothing set in stone at this time.”
Remember the Port of Oakland shut-downs? A resolution such as this one passed at Occupy Oakland GA goes well beyond “internet chatter”. I, among many, know it means that the Golden Gate Bridge is going to be shut down. Set something in stone…or in whatever material is best suited for alerting the commuters in time.
- Maybe Commuters Will Know After All? -
Only a day after posting this, the Golden Gate Bridge District posted a press release UPDATE - Here’s an excerpt (the entire update can be viewed at goldengate.org):
“The GGBHTD is closely monitoring this situation and is aware of various discussions on the Internet that mention shutting down the Bridge roadway on May 1st. The GGBHTD will work with our partner agencies to insure public safety and public convenience, but there may be some inconvenience to our customers on May 1st.
The GGBHTD is engaged in good faith bargaining with the Union Coalition, and our next negotiating session is scheduled for May 7th.”
“There may be some inconvenience to our customers May 1st”?
I would bet on it…especially considering the next negotiating session isn’t till May 7th.
- 4 days to go… -
I’m still waiting to hear back from the public relations contact at MTC who told me he’d be contacting “511 operations to determine whether they are following the planned action on May 1.”
- So, Yeah…THAT just happened -
As soon as I finish an email conversation illustrating why I think the bridge shutdown will happen, I notice the action plan on occupythebridge.org removed the declaration: ‘which WILL result in the Golden Gate Bridge being shut down’. The action plan as it stands now can be found by clicking HERE.
Then, I see this tweet from @scottanansi on twitter:
The Golden Gate Labor Coalition now (In this press release via occupythebridge.org) “ask for support at May Day picket lines and ask supporters to KEEP BRIDGE OPEN.” (emphasis mine)
The Occupy Oakland resolution was to act in solidarity “If any of the unions on the Golden Gate bridge declare a strike or shutdown action on May Day…” but now the GGLC is asking for supporters to not close the bridge.
We’ll see how this one plays out…but it’s certainly not a sure thing in my mind any longer…and I can certainly see now why bridge authorities might hesitate in alerting commuters to a SHUT DOWN.
“there may be some inconvenience to our customers on May 1st…” might have been the best approach after all. What do I know? I’m just a comedian with a camera.
See you May 1st!
I’ll update here and on twitter on anything I learn from correspondence and from my relentless trolling of traffic alert/update websites.
If you learn anything concrete you’d like to share, feel free to contact me via twitter or email: