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The mayor blogs about the transit strike

December 15, 2008 @ 12:49 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

Larry O’Brien has been blogging about the transit strike. Today’s entry is address to the members of ATU 279 and includes a link to a letter sent by Alain Mercier of OC Transpo to the ATU leadership. He continues to encourage the union to allow its members to vote on the offer.

Some people have responded, including several drivers and mechanics. While some of the comments are predictable union spew, some are quite reasonable and offer some insight into the union politics. Excluding the obvious union supporters, there were only a couple of comments suggesting that the City should give in to the union. Giving in would be the absolute worst thing they could do because that only sets things up for the ATU (or any other union) to hold the city hostage when they enter negotiations with the City.

William Seabrooke wrote the following comment:

I being a senior operator and being eligible to retire next year, didn’t bother voting on the first offer, yet was happy about the 98% refusal because of the idea of block booking. I heard nothing but horror stories about it. I believe the reality of the issue was that we had no idea about what it would look like. After reading your explanation Mr. Mercier it doesn’t sound that bad. It’s too bad that explanation was not made availble to us as members of ATU 279 prior to the first vote.

So, the union members voted without the full picture. The burden for that really falls on the union’s negotiating team, I think. If they didn’t feel they had enough information, they should have gone back to the City and asked for a simulation rather than tell their members the City’s offer is completely unreasonable.

A comment from a mechanic named Pat talks about how scheduling is handled in the garage, where it sounds like the schedule is controlled by the City. He seems to feel that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so to speak:

Hello Larry, I am a mechanic at OC. The City changes our schedule in the garage and there doesn’t seem to be a problem. Small out cry but not to much happens. I don’t understand, the schedule should have been changed through a booking and that way the drivers could be use to it before a contract is up. Is that not possible? Just wonder if you could change the wording in the contract since the statement is made that it’s not really block booking. And then change the schedule with the explanation that management has the right to manage.
I hope this will help in a way,
Thank You


The union members need to demand a vote on the offer since it appears they didn’t have all the information they needed to make an informed decision first time ’round. If their union officials refuse, then they should look closely at their union’s constitution and figure out how to force a meeting to be held even if the executive don’t want one. The ATU 279 executive is doing a disservice to its members if they don’t.

4 Responses to “The mayor blogs about the transit strike”

  1. Hugh Andrew says:

    It is so wrong that a union has the legal ability to not just directly hurt a company, but ruin the economy of a city, put innocent people out of work and hurt families. I hope that the bus drivers appreciate the harm that they brought upon the innocent. Years ago, Ronald Reagan fired all air traffic controllers, gave them a number of days to resign if they chose, and those that didn’t lost their air traffic control jobs permanently. This is what is needed here. There are a lot of people who would love to have a bus driver job. By the way, I said the same thing to, then Toronto Mayor, Mel Lastman during the last garbage strike. He didn’t have the guts to do it.

    Giving employees some strength in negotiation with an employer has gotten out disproportional. Here, the damage to others is severe and they do not have direct recourse to push back. That is wrong. Citizens are victim of bully unions.

    Further, I object to the secret negotiations. As an Ottawa taxpayer, I cannot see who is behaving badly, greedily, etc. I cannot decide to vote out the current city administration if I can’t judge their behaviour, nor can I see how bad the union behaviour is if I’m kept in the dark. I believe that in cases where the impact on the public is so damaging, we should be able to judge the facts. I feel helpless against the bus drivers and their unions, don’t you?

  2. CPGIXXER says:

    Boo hoo hoo, lets blame the union, if it weren’t for unions the cities and all the people in them wouldn’t be driving cars or driving on plowed roads or have an education or or or. Let’s look at our city, Larry O’Brien- CEO extra ordinary- he pushed off the issue’s for months and then decided to table an offer days before a strike, do you think he gives a crap about the citizens and what they are going through? Proof is in the pudding, if he did care this would have been settled long and ever ago. But he has no understanding of unions and politics, sure as hell isn’t effecting him and his staff. Wonder what they drive to work, Benz, BMW? Sure as hell isn’t the bus so what would it matter.

  3. gordon says:

    Actually, none of those jobs have to be unionized. The work could equally be done by non-unionized employees.

  4. John Thomas says:

    "Actually, none of those jobs have to be unionized. The work could equally be done by non-unionized employees."

    Better and for less.
    Plus you wouldnt need to pay union dues that go to useless union officials that produce nothing.

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