Debra J. Saunders

BART unions have legitimate beefs. Workers haven't had a raise in four years. By not coming to terms sooner, labor won an offer of four annual 3 percent pay raises. Those are good raises, even if they are tempered by an increase to employee health contributions from $92 to $144 per month in 2017 and a first-time requirement that they pay into their pensions -- 1 percent in year one, 4 percent in year four.

In a world where so many people have seen their pay increases devoured by rising benefit costs, however, BART workers should not expect a lot of sympathy. BART salaries average between $66,000 and $74,000, depending on which side you ask. A Chronicle analysis found that when you add in health care and pension contributions, BART workers "may well be among the best off in the country."

BART management isn't doing that poorly either. Chief negotiator Thomas Hock has a $399,000 contract. General Manager Grace Crunican makes $350,000 a year -- after two years, she is vested with lifetime medical care. Her fired predecessor walked away with a $1 million severance package. These cozy arrangements serve as an unwritten invitation to labor actions. Thank you, elected BART board.

As I write this, Washington finally seems poised to get back to work. A BART strike remains a possibility. Labor leaders must know that they cannot win a strike. The public has given BART workers its trust; once lost, it will not be easy to reclaim.

Debra J. Saunders

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