The Truth About Cars » Protest http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:03:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Protest http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Scrambling the Politics of Mass Transit in San Francisco http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/scrambling-the-politics-of-mass-transit-in-san-francisco/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/scrambling-the-politics-of-mass-transit-in-san-francisco/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=686034 googlebus

Image from Twitter @craigsfrost

Positively or negatively, mass transit is often viewed as a social leveler. Rich and poor alike ride the subway in New York, London and Berlin. Atlantans of all economic and social backgrounds make use of MARTA’s facilities, as they do in many other American cities where public transit is the most efficient way of navigating the inner cities. Of course, these are public systems, funded by fares and taxpayer money.

 

They fulfill the transportation needs of a wide segment of the population, and they generally give the same level of service regardless of income or status. In areas that aren’t as densely urbanized as the aforementioned examples and where car ownership for city dwellers is a more practical proposition, mass transit usage tends to skew towards a less affluent demographic. As a political football, mass transit can thus be kicked in many directions depending on ideological necessity. However, the underlying assumption for either end of the political spectrum remains the same: mass transit is an equalizer. But what happens when this typical political equation is turned on its head? Could riding the bus be considered a show of affluence instead of equality or penury? Protestors in the San Francisco bay area seem to think so.

On December 20th, demonstrators blocked the paths of two private buses (operated by tech firms Google and Apple) in a protest action. In Oakland and in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, protestors held up the buses when they stopped to collect employees. This was the second such action in two weeks. Previous protests were peaceful, but in Oakland things got ugly. The Google bus had a window broken and tires slashed; protestors dispersed after police were called, with no arrests or citations issued. Before they left, protestors harangued bus riders and handed out copies of this supremely classy flyer. Many of the largest tech firms with headquarters in the area run private bus lines that ferry workers from the city to the suburbs. This sort of anti-Levittown arrangement has led to simmering tensions between employees of the tech giants and other city residents.

So what’s driving these protests? In a word, gentrification. The expansion of tech firms on the city’s outskirts and general economic recovery since the Great Recession has driven up rents enormously within the city. The median rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is now almost $2800 a month, a 27% increase since 2011. Protestors blame new arrivals to the city for skyrocketing rents, a new wave of evictions, and overall social unrest. They claim that Google, Apple, and other tech companies are turning older neighborhoods into bedroom communities for their employees. This is done, they say, with little regard for the impact on long-term residents, many of whom live in rent-controlled apartments. The bus services are the most obvious manifestation of this trend, and have thus become a target for protestors.

Tech companies offer shuttle service between the city and their suburban campuses as an employment perk. These unregulated private buses often use public stops to pick up and drop off employees, without paying anything to city. This has generated complaints about congestion and obstruction of public buses. Some metro San Francisco buses have been forced to stop short or to let passengers off in the middle of the street, undoubtedly an irritating circumstance. The city is currently in negotiations with Google and other tech companies to institute a fee system for use of public stops, and to prevent congestion. But it’s clear that frustration with the situation has already transcended bureaucratic dialogue.

One can sympathize with the concerns of protestors about the upheaval in established neighborhoods and the misuse of public facilities. Forking over the better part of three grand a month for a one-bedroom apartment seems insane anywhere outside of Manhattan or Tokyo. But attacking the workers responsible for a city’s economic renaissance is surely a self-defeating strategy. New construction may help alleviate housing pressures, as thousands of city apartments are scheduled to become available within the next several years. Until then, the city’s longtime residents and the architects of the new tech boom will have to learn to live with each other. In this case, riding the bus divides citizens rather than uniting them.

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UAW: The War On Transplants Is Still On, Dealers On The Front Lines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/uaw-the-war-on-transplants-is-still-on-dealers-on-the-front-lines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/uaw-the-war-on-transplants-is-still-on-dealers-on-the-front-lines/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 16:32:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=419473

With a tough negotiating session with its traditional employers now complete, the United Auto Workers are turning their focus back to the year’s primary goal: organizing the transplant factories. 2011 was supposed to be the year in which the UAW took down “at least one” foreign-owned auto plant, with the union’s boss even going as far as to say

If we don’t organize the transnationals, I don’t think there is a long-term future for the UAW

But as we found, the UAW is not welcome in the South, where most of the transplant factories are found. And with Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and VW all rejecting the UAW’s advances in some form or another, the union’s options are fairly limited. So instead of taking on the factories directly, the UAW is bringing back a questionable tactic from the days when it was misleadingly bashing Toyota for “abandoning” the NUMMI factory: they are taking the fight to dealerships.

Bloomberg reports

The United Auto Workers union, whose leader has staked its future bargaining power on organizing U.S. plants of Asian and European automakers, plans to start pressuring the companies through dealership campaigns.

Regional UAW representatives trained members about how the campaign will work at UAW Local 2209 on Nov. 19, said Mark Gevaart, president of the local in Roanoke, Indiana. The union hasn’t selected the automaker it will target and didn’t discuss when the drive will begin, he said in a phone interview.

The problem: as mentioned earlier, the UAW has already tried this on Toyota. And at the time, Toyota fired back with a pretty legitimate complaint, arguing

I still don’t understand why they are picketing our dealerships when the dealerships have nothing to do with the workers. Our workers make the ultimate decision if they want to unionize or not and for the past 25 years they have said no… Our team members want to make cars for people to buy. They don’t like it when people try to stop you from buying.

And here’s the funny part: the UAW has admitted that the dealership-picketing tactic didn’t help its cause, as President Bob King put it when he called off the last round of Toyota dealer protests

We said we were going to be the UAW of the 21st century and didn’t feel like that was accomplishing that goal

But hey, why not try it again? What’s the worst that could happen?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The UAW Is Looking Out For You Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-uaw-is-looking-out-for-you-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-uaw-is-looking-out-for-you-edition/#comments Mon, 22 Feb 2010 19:17:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=346296

UAW members protest a Modesto, CA Toyota dealer, as part of the union’s wider effort to punish Toyota for its decision to shut down the NUMMI factory in nearby Fremont [via the Modesto Bee]. “We are not telling people not to buy Toyota products,” explains one worker. “We’re telling people that Toyota needs to be a responsible corporation and keep jobs in California.” And though there couldn’t be a better time to blame Toyota for just about anything, the NUMMI plant was closed because GM ditched the joint venture during its bankruptcy and government bailout. Toyota, like GM, was faced with overproduction in the US market, and because GM had pulled out of NUMMI, the plant was an obvious candidate for closure. So really, these protesters would have some sinister version of GM’s logo on their sign if they were really interested in fairly assigning blame for the NUMMI shutdown. However, their UAW pension fund owns 17.5 percent of GM, so simply blaming Toyota is a lot more convenient. Especially since Toyota is already attracting so much well-deserved (if wholly-unrelated) negative media attention.

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