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Archive for the ‘Transit strike’

ATU 279 votes

January 08, 2009 @ 11:30 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Meta, Seen on the 'net, Transit strike

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few weeks, you know that Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union is on strike. Today, they union is being forced to take the last offer from the City to the members for a vote. The union executive is strongly encouraging its members to vote “no”, meaning the strike will continue, even though the majority of citizens in Ottawa are prepared to freeze them out.

Most of the bloggers I know are encouraging the union members to vote “yes” for what is generally felt by everyone except the union executive to be a fair offer. Here’s a quick round up of what they’re writing:

And, of course I’ve written an entry encouraging people to not demonstrate outside where the union members are voting.

All there is to do at this point is wait and hope that the union members are clearer thinkers than their union boss.

*** If you’re looking for the results, I wrote about them here.

Why demonstrating at the ATU 279 vote at Lansdowne Park is a bad idea

January 08, 2009 @ 07:57 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

There have been suggestions that people should show up at Lansdowne Park today to demonstrate outside where the ATU 279 members are voting on the latest offer from the city. At least one Facebook group has been set up and I’ve seen entries on other blogs to this effect. While at first glance this sounds like a good idea, I actually think it’s a very bad idea.

Right now, the union members are being encouraged by their executive to vote “no” on the City’s offer. Cornellier said at one point that the mandatory vote was bad because it would split the union over an issue that only affects a relatively small number of union members. One way to interpret this is that Cornellier suspects that he does not enjoy the near unanimous support of his membership on this issue he’s been saying he has and that he fears a majority might actually like the City’s offer, which would be a good thing for most people except for Cornellier and the ATU 279 executive.

Demonstrating outside Lansdowne Park might make some of the members who are prepared to vote to accept the offer change their minds out of spite, particularly if they feel intimidated/harassed/threatened by the demonstrators.

So, if you’re thinking of showing up at Lansdowne Park to express your feelings on the strike to the union members heading in to vote, please reconsider. This vote is going to be a difficult decision for some union members who are being pressured by their peers to vote “no” when they want to vote “yes” – we don’t want to change their minds on this issue and cause them to vote “no”.

Mr. Pot meet Mr. Kettle

January 08, 2009 @ 06:03 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

It appears Andre Cornellier doesn’t like Lowell Green. (To be fair, he’s probably not alone in this.)

In a press release on the ATU 279 website, the union announced that it has filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council over “the appropriateness of comments made by CFRA talk radio host Lowell Green”.

It seems that Green encouraged his listeners to picket the OC Transpo Annual Christmas Party. The union alleges that “Mr. Green made no effort to discourage the many callers who promoted violence against the members of the Union attending the Christmas Party”.

The final paragraph of their press release reads:

By making the public comments that he did, the Union alleges that Mr. Green has violated a number of sections of the CAB Code of Ethics. Both Mr. Green and CFRA have been found to have failed to meet the requirements of the Code of Ethics in the past for the very same reasons that have led the Union to file this complaint.

I wrote about people threatening Cornellier a couple of weeks ago and at the time said that such threats were crossing the line of acceptable behaviour and that people who made them should be charged, convicted and do some jail time. I stand by that statement.

However, simply encouraging people to picket the union’s Christmas party is really no more inappropriate than the union encouraging all of its members to picket the junior hockey games, which is what Cornellier was doing before the City obtained an injunction against the union. Cornellier should accept the fact that his union is not exactly the most popular group of people in town and not be surprised when people use some of the same tactics he’s employing against him.

Still, violence against either the drivers or the riders is not acceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated, regardless of one’s feelings concerning the other side’s position.

A tip o’ the hat to Public Transit in Ottawa for writing about this.

Union support at fourteen percent

January 07, 2009 @ 07:30 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Statistics, Transit strike

fourteen-percent The mayor released the results of a survey conducted by Harris/Decima that asked city residents about the transit strike on his blog Tuesday. There’s a fair bit of detail in the results, so I thought I’d highlight a few numbers.

Overall, 63% moderately or strongly support the City while only 14% moderately or strongly support the Union. (Eighteen percent of people support both equally.)

While 14% of people have sided with the union, only 8% of people are satisfied with with way the union has handled the negotiations, compared to 36% who are satisfied with the city’s behaviour. Most people think the city is “being fair and reasonable with the transit union in its approach to the issues”.

It gets more interesting… (more…)

Waiting for the vote

December 31, 2008 @ 03:05 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

I wrote a couple of entries about the OC Transpo strike after it started, but I refrained from writing about it when the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 decided to return to the table.

But it appears that they were not serious about negotiating since they walked away from the table after only a couple of days while at the same time saying they were going to get so many picketers to show up at Lansdowne Park on the 26th that the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship games would be disrupted. Shameful behaviour, at best.

Fortunately, the City was able to get an injunction that only allowed a handful of picketers at each entrance and they weren’t allowed to actually interfere with anyone.

The City has challenged the Union executive to let their members vote on the offer, which the Union has refused to do. According to a CTV story, the president of ATU 279, Andre Cornellier, has stated “he won’t hold a vote that would potentially divide the membership since scheduling and booking concerns only affect a few hundred OC Transpo workers.”

Sounds like Cornellier is admitting that he thinks he doesn’t have the support for the on-going strike from the majority of his members, which I speculated about over two weeks ago.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the vote is held. If the offer currently on the table is accepted by a majority of the members I wonder if their next vote will be to find a new union president. Time will tell.

Kudos to CUPE 5500

December 17, 2008 @ 08:36 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

CUPE 5500, the union that represents the garage supervisors, route supervisors and special constables at OC Transpo, voted 97% in favour of a strike in November, but managed to work out a contract with the City that their negotiators feel is fair.  Well done, CUPE 5500!

Larry O’Brien blogged about it, and already a few commentors are criticizing it. For example, John said:

What a great political move. Quietly settle with CUPE while the ATU dispute gets negotiated out in the open.

Not. Very. Classy.

Who aired their dirty launday, so to speak, first, John? It seems to me that the ATU 279 did. And when a public sector union goes on strike, the offer on the table should be known by the taxpayers.

Larry’s blog entry wasn’t very long, but contained the following:

This demonstrates that the unions and the City are more than capable of reaching an agreement through negotiations. It is much better to be sitting down at the table finding solutions rather than simply going to an outside party to work out important issues.

I ask again that the leadership of ATU 279 come back to the bargaining table and deal with the important issue of scheduling. We want you to be there and I hope you will come back and work with our team to make Ottawa a better city.

The president of CUPE 5500 said somewhere (I can’t find the link again at the moment) that while they didn’t get everything they wanted, he felt it was a fair deal and was recommending his members accept it. Hopefully Andre Cornellier and the other people in charge of ATU 279 are paying attention.

Crossing the line

December 16, 2008 @ 08:33 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

According to a story on the CBC’s website, people have been threatening Andre Cornellier and his family:

Graham said he is speaking on behalf of the union instead of Cornellier in order to take some of the attention away from Cornellier, who has received some “significant threats” against himself and his family. Police have been called to investigate the matter, Graham said. In the meantime, Cornellier is concentrating on the business of administering the strike, he said.

I can understand people’s frustration with the situation and I certainly don’t support ATU 279’s position, but threatening the union boss or any of the strikers is taking things too far. Threatening the union boss’ family is so far over the line of acceptable behaviour that you need a telescope to even see it. Let’s keep the protests civil.

Hopefully, the person or persons who did this will be found, charged, convicted and do some jail time.