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San Francisco Judge Dismisses Harassment Charges Against a Union Activist Who Says He Wasexercising Free Speech

May 22, 2001


On March 30 of this year Ray Quan, a mechanic with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in Oakland, CA and a longtime unionactivist, was suspended without pay or a hearing. BART management contended that Quon threatened a supervisor in anarticle he wrote for the newsletter "Odds and Ends," (which he has self-published for the last eight years) and senthim home under the guise of the "Violence in the Workplace Program."

Quan, who for years has been one of the most outspoken voices in his union, says city transit authorities are tryingto silence him for speaking up on behalf of his fellow workers and criticizing management practices. He says hiscase is the just the latest example of BART’s attempts to intimidate its most politically engaged and activeemployees. Two months later, Ray Quan is still off the job. Last week, a California judge dismissed BART’s caseagainst Quan as frivolous and stated further that he was merely exercising his right to free speech in hispublication.

Last week Democracy Now! brought you Czech journalists who occupied the state’s only independent television stationand high school reporters battling censorship to protect their freedom of speech. The case of Ray Quan raisesanother important question: how free is speech in the workplace? And what are the consequences for those who chooseto speak out?


  • Ray Quan, long time BART mechanic and union activist in the Bay area with SEIU local 790.