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Archive for the ‘Transit strike’

Does the ATU 279 membership not trust their executive anymore?

September 28, 2009 @ 12:30 By: gordon Category: Transit strike

antiatu279.pngAs you probably know by now, Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union has voted to retain the right to strike rather than have future labour disputes resolved by binding arbitration. This is a bit surprising because back at the end of January the very same local agreed to resolve the labour dispute at the time by binding arbitration, which is why I removed the little anti-ATU logo that had appeared in the header of my blog.

I was quite surprised by this because I would have thought the union membership would have followed the advice of their president, Andre Cornellier, whose advice they followed when they went on strike in the first place.

Does this mean they don’t trust him anymore?


Post-strike update

February 02, 2009 @ 00:16 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Meta, Transit strike

In recognition of the fact that the OC Transpo strike is over now that the ATU has ratified the agreement to go to binding arbitration I’ve removed the little anti-ATU 279 logo that’s been gracing the header picture of my blog the last few weeks.

Push came to shove

January 29, 2009 @ 20:32 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

O’Brien said when the federal government began to move forward with the legislation it was obvious that the strike was over. (CBC story)

So, it seems that with the very real threat of being legislated back to work, both the city and the ATU 279 decided to send the dispute to binding arbitration. Of course, the strike isn’t officially over until both sides ratify the agreement, but it’s probably not in the interest of either side to not accept it.

Assuming they do, an arbitrator will come up with a three-year contract that covers wages, benefits, sick leave and contracting out. CBC reports that the mayor said “the city and the union are still very far apart on scheduling, raises, bonuses and benefits.” Hopefully the arbitrator will recognize the principle that management has the right to manage and return control of the schedule to the city where it should be.

In any event, it’s probably going to take people a long time to get over the strike. Other transit strikes have resulted in significant drops in ridership levels that can take months or years to return to pre-strike levels. I wonder how long it’ll take for ridership levels to return to “normal” this time.

Hopefully, there won’t be any incidents of violence towards the drivers when the buses get back on the road.

The mayor asks a very good question

January 28, 2009 @ 20:32 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

antiatu279.pngLarry O’Brien has written a blog entry asking what is the ATU willing to compromise on. He talks about the negotiations over the last couple of months, including the recent negotiations. The city has changed their offer from 7.25% over three years to 9.25% over three years. (As a point of reference, federal employees are only getting 6.8% over four years.) They’re focusing on the safety aspects and consequently have removed the $2500 bonus drivers were going to receive in recognition of efficiencies that would have been achieved by the new contract.

9.25% is what the union was asking for (even though they’ve said it’s not about the money) and still they’re saying no.

For the union to say that the city’s offer is basically unchanged from the original offer is ludicrous. True, the city wants to regain control of the schedule and they’re not budging on this, but they’ve sweetened the pot in return by giving in on the salary demands. (Management has the right and responsibility to manage. Without control over the schedule, they cannot exercise this right nor fulfill their responsibilities.)

Compromise is a two-way street. The city has compromised on some things, so what is the union willing to compromise on to reach an agreement?


Now you can write your own story about the negotiations between the City and ATU 279

January 28, 2009 @ 12:31 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

Andre Cornellier certainly makes it easy for reporters to file their stories about the negotiations between the City and ATU 279, doesn’t he, because there’s really just a handful of phrases and quotes they need to use when writing their stories?

Now you can write your own story in five easy steps!

First, you need a headline:

  1. Talks break off again between the city and striking transit union
  2. Union negotiators walk away from the table
  3. ATU 279 still on strike
  4. No progress in negotiations between the city and transit union
  5. Day ___: Still no deal   (you’ll have to fill in the blank with the appropriate number)

Chose one of the following opening sentences:

  1. After returning to the bargaining table, talks between the City and Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union have broken down once again.
  2. Once again, negotiators for Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union walked away from the negotiating table.
  3. Bus riders are still stuck walking as the strike enters its _______th day in a row. (again, fill in the blank with the appropriate number)

Next, add a reason why the talks broke off:

  1. Union negotiators maintain that they have the right to determine their schedules.
  2. According to union officials the City’s latest offer is not substantially different from previous offers.
  3. City maintains it has the support of its citizens in pursuing its goals of reducing overtime and operating costs while improving safety.

Finally, you need some quotes. First, one from a random citizen of Ottawa:

  1. U. N. Owen, regular bus rider, said “I can’t believe they rejected this offer. It’s more than most people in this city are getting.”
  2. “Both sides are being spoiled rotten children,” said John upon hearing talks had broken down again. “They should be taken out to the woodshed and beaten with a switch.”
  3. “Looks like I’m going to be walking to work for a long time,” one rider was heard to comment.

And then one from the Union:

  1. “I’m just drooling,” Andre Cornellier told reporters.
  2. “It’s about maximum disruption and maximum inconvenience to the public,” reminded local president Andre Cornellier.

And voila! You’ve just written the next story about negotiations between the city and ATU 279!

If I’ve missed any options, please feel free to post suggestions below. 🙂

Transit strike: Day R (where R is a ridiculously large number)

January 19, 2009 @ 12:33 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

It’s Monday and I’m blogging, so it’s probably about the transit strike. Of course, if you look back through my recent entries you can probably change the day of the week and that statement would hold true. And today is no exception. *sigh*

CBC has a story about the striking transit workers being “disappointed” because the city rejected their latest offer. The first thing that came to mind was “now you know how everyone in the city felt when your union voted to reject the very reasonable offer”. At least the city councillors didn’t hold a “victory party” and post a video of it on the Internet. (You can see it on YouTube if you want, but don’t bother unless you’re looking to get angry.)

But reading the full story, I found the following:

Sowden [a bus driver interviewed on a picket line] said bus drivers were aware since the beginning of last year that a strike “was pending” and hence are ready to stick out longer.

“Many have worked the overtime in summer and have saved up our pennies so that we can carry ourselves through.”

This just supports something I’ve been thinking since the strike started, namely that ATU union boss, Andre Cornellier, almost certainly had no intention of not striking when he sat down at the bargaining table seven days before he called for a strike. How can this be considered as a prelude to bargaining in good faith?

Oh right – it can’t.

25% of the ATU 279 voted to accept the offer

January 09, 2009 @ 00:36 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union’s transit strike website, 2045 members vote of which 75% voted not to accept the City’s offer. This means that 25% of the union members voted to accept the offer.

To the 25% I say a very sincere “Thank you”. You obviously are able to think for yourself rather than follow Andre Cornellier like sheep.

Also on their website is a YouTube video of their “victory party” entitled “2000 souls”. Frankly, I find the video disgusting and I can’t help but wonder what the 25% think of it.


They’ve also got this high contrast red and black graphic which lists the number of voters, the proportion that voted “no” and includes the phrase “No  means No” underneath a ballot box with a X in it. I find this very ironic because I came up with my own high contrast red and black graphic about two weeks ago which I’ve been resisting the urge to use in a blog entry. Until now, that is. 😉

I’m think of having pins made up with my graphic on it and selling them for a buck or two. Would you buy one?

So, back to the main issue: They have voted to not accept the offer. Presumably they’re going to continue to protest, though the smartest thing they could do is return to work as a gesture of good faith while the negotiators continue to try to hammer down a contract. However, based on their victory video and what I’ve seen of Andre Cornellier in interviews on television, the only gesture Cornellier knows involves the middle finger of his hand.

Hopefully, the City negotiators will not capitulate to the union as a result of this vote. In essence, nothing has really changed other than Cornellier gets to say “I told you so” and act smug.

Also, the Canadian Industrial Relations Board is soliciting input from members of the public with how they’ve been affected by the strike. The deadline for submissions is 5:00pm Friday, January 9th, so if you’re planning on sending something in you better do it immediately.

Here’s an excerpt from the CIRB website:

Section 87.4(1) of the Canada Labour Code provides that: "During a strike or lockout not prohibited by this Part, the employer, the trade union and the employees in the bargaining unit must continue the supply of services, operation of facilities or production of goods to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public."

Keeping this criterion in mind, members of the public have an opportunity to provide a written explanation as to why they think this obligation is or is not being met during the current work stoppage involving the City of Ottawa (OC Transpo) and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279.

Submissions must provide specific details in support of the statements being made and must be limited to the issue raised in this notice. They must also include the name and contact information of the person making the submission. Please note that all submissions received will be transmitted to the employer and the trade union for their review and comment.

Submissions may be sent to the Canada Industrial Relations Board as follows:

  • by email at octranspo-atu@cirb-ccri.gc.ca
  • by fax at 613-941-4461
  • by regular mail or by hand at the following address:

Canada Industrial Relations Board, Regional Director
C.D. Howe Building, 4th Floor West, 240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0X8

If the CIRB determine that the strike is having too much of an impact or causing extreme hardships for certain groups, they might force the union to return to work while the negotiations continue.