Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bridge To Nowhere II

The state of California will soon be broke. We are presently hemorrhaging money at or above the pace of the federal government. With this fact in mind, our Governator and legislators are preparing to cut any number of state programs and projects. These are the guys who ultimately decide how many dollars end up in the budget for education. And just like me, they're taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays.
Meanwhile, down by the bay, a ship sits at the dock stacked full of steel structures for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. For the third day, it sat without being unloaded. For the third day, work was stopped on the Bay Bridge. At the heart of the work stoppage was a disagreement between two unions as to who should be allowed to take cargo off the Zhen Hua. Longshore workers say they have a right to unload the ship, while Caltrans is defending its decision to use two other unions, representing iron workers and operating engineers, who are involved in the Bay Bridge construction.
Negotiations took place in a building overlooking the pier where the ship is moored. Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said he could not provide estimates of what the delay might cost. It's possible workers will have to put in overtime to catch up or that longshore workers will be given a role, both of which could add costs to the project. Adding costs to this project that has already been funded, but still taking place in a state where money is running out, and people are looking for work in record numbers.
I could make ridiculous suggestions like bringing in some of the unemployed workers of Oakland to get the steel off the ship, but that wouldn't answer the question of safety, the sticking point for the longshoremen. I could suggest that Solomonic wisdom suggests that we tear the ship in pieces and have each union pull what they can as it sinks into the bay. Or maybe I could point out all the obvious points made along the way. Or maybe I've forgotten the most obvious point of all: Keeping all professional negotiators fully employed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And we want unions for what purpose in this modern age?