Related: Ottawa OC Transpo Guide
The city botched it. Leave aside the merits of each side's argument and look at how they fought. The city misjudged the importance of work scheduling to the workers — was very possibly ignorant of the system's origins only 10 years ago. Just a few days in, Mayor Larry O'Brien made the fight with ATU 279 personal, calling out president André Cornellier and daring him to let the members vote on the city's last offer.
Practically every time he opened his mouth, O'Brien found a way to insult the strikers, particularly when he rather spectacularly said he hoped to "educate" them about the city's offer....
Like it or not, Cornellier comes out of this a winner. Sure, practically everyone in Ottawa hates him, but he doesn't work for us — he works for 2,300 ATU 279 members and he just led them to a victory, even if it was in a defensive action and it came at great cost. Cornellier acted like a jerk, especially at the beginning of the strike, but it's hard to see a point where any different choices on his part could have let to a compromise with with a management negotiating team that declared that the key bargaining issue was, in fact, non-negotiable.
ATU international vice-president Randy Graham, an Ottawa guy, is a winner, too: he gets the victory and to come off as The Reasonable One in the transit union's leadership.
Their members ... I guess for them it's a wash... They elected a leader who seemed to rejoice in infuriating Ottawans, but now it's the ATU drivers who get to climb back on the buses and face the public. Here's hoping most of the riders see the pointlessness of abusing the men and women at the wheel, but I bet hardly any of them will have pleasant first days back.
...The real long-term losers are the people of Ottawa, especially those of us who saw in council's eagerness to build a $4.7-billion system of rail lines and busways that are rail-lines-to-be a vision of a city that would finally fight its way out of the 1980s. One that no longer thought that yet another subdivision upstream on the Rideau River was good planning. One that actually had begun to believe its own rhetoric about having people live more compact lives in a vibrant downtown and not building their lives (and neighbourhoods) around cars.
That's done now. Yes, drivers heading downtown from the burbs had a rough time sitting on the Queensway, but at least they got to work on school without having to go begging to their friends or relatives (or complete strangers) for help. The people who believed the city's guff about transit got it in the shorts, and they won't forget the betrayal.Read the full article.
January 29, 2009
OC Transpo Strike: winners and losers ... but mostly losers
Required reading: Relief - and recimination, by the Ottawa Citizen's David Reevely. Some highlights: