On strike

So the bus drivers in Ottawa went on strike the other day, in the middle of a snowstorm that dumped 25 cms on Ottawa.

The last bus driver strike happened in December, 1996. I was a poor student then, studying at Carleton University, but living next to Algonquin College. As I was still relatively new to the city, I didn’t feel comfortable hitchhiking, so I walked to school.

But I remember the bus drivers getting support back then.

Not this time. This time around, the city is coming off as the good guys. I’m not sure if it’s because of the economy being so bad and the bus drivers asking for a 10% raise, or because more people are inconvenienced. But it doesn’t seem as if the drivers are getting any support.

Striking during a snowstorm might have been a bad idea. Picketing in front of city hall and creating traffic snarls downtown wasn’t a good idea. Having Andre Cornellier, the union president, talk to the media and basically say he doesn’t care about the public is probably the worst idea in the history of negotiating.

Now he won’t talk to the media because he thinks the media won’t listen to him. Yet he won’t explain himself.

This is kind of reminding me of the NHL lockout a few years back. The players had their demands, because they wanted more money. But most of the public backed the owners. And when the lockout was over, NHLPA president Bob Goodenow. He was forced to step down two weeks after the lockout ended because of how badly he mismanaged everything.

I can see the same thing happening here. The people support the city, the city holds firm, the strikers settle for less than what they asked, and, if they’re smart, asking their union president to step down.

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1 Comment

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One response to “On strike

  1. blair

    If Andre won’t speak to the media, perhaps journalists should find another spokesperson — maybe a bus driver or the head of the national ATU union. (I know these suggestions seem ridiculous on the surface).
    I question the logic of ignoring the media and by extension the public by refusing to talk to journalists — I realize Mr. Cornellier must act on the behalf of his workers, but he should also realize this strike is having a profound effect on the citizens of Ottawa.
    Hubris?

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