BART Strike Watch: Prospect of Second Walkout Worries Small Business Owners
By Isabel Angell
The BART strike earlier this month stranded some 200,000 commuters for almost five days. BART and its unions are back in negotiations, but the unions say they will strike again if there’s no deal by Aug. 4.
But it’s not just commuters who would be affected by another strike.
A lot of small businesses also rely on BART. At Montgomery Flowers at BART, tucked into San Francisco’s Montgomery Station, co-owner Eva Liang said the strike was devastating to her little shop.
“We totally closed because it’s empty, zero customers,” she said.
With the BART station closed, she had no choice but to miss five full days of work. Another strike, she said, would be very difficult.
“Hopefully they get a deal for each other,” she said. “Everyone will be happy.”
Up above ground, “Famous Wayne” – who asked to be identified by his nickname – has an established shoeshine business on Market Street in the city’s Financial District.
Wayne said that the BART strike seriously harmed his business:
“It messed me up last time, BART was on strike for four days, business was slow. I did about 10 shines a day.” Wayne said he usually does between 50-70 shoeshines a day, and he charges about $7-8 per shine.
Tyler Gering works at one of the Chai Carts on Market Street, also in the Financial District. He said the area felt like a ghost town during the strike, especially during the first few days. Add the mini heat wave that happened at the same time, and Gering said he got almost no customers. He really doesn’t want to see a repeat.
“I don’t own this cart, but if it’s low enough I don’t get work and I don’t paid, so that’s kind of big deal,” he said. “I hope that it doesn’t happen.”
BART and the unions have not said much about the current negotiations, but people like Liang, Wayne and Gering are hanging on and hoping the two sides can reach a deal before the Aug. 4 deadline.