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Dr. Seuss to Mayor Larry: Mad not Sad

Last Bus to NowhereThe bus strike and the blizzard seem almost divinely synchronized for maximum impact on the city. I predict chaos and paralysis if this strike is not averted. It was bad enough trying to get home tonight, with just the blizzard.

Mayor Larry, on his blog, keeps saying things like “It would be sad if there were a transit strike.”

I think the mayor is in need of a Dr. Seuss Primer on Emotional Intelligence, because ‘sad’ is a bizarrely inappropriate word to use in this situation.

I’m not sad Larry. I’m hugely inconvenienced and I’m pissed off. And there are plenty of people whose lives will be more disrupted than mine by this strike, and I bet they’re mad-not-sad too. Students are trying to get to exams. Seniors and people with disabilities are trying to remain independent. Some people do their grocery shopping by bus. There are people who are going to lose their jobs because they can’t get to work.

I think the mayor has made a gross miscalculation if he truly believes all these people will react with sadness to a bus strike.

I think to Mayor Larry there are only three kinds of people: those whose ass he kisses, those who kiss his ass, and those who refuse to kiss his ass even though he thinks they ought to. It’s this last group that makes his blood boil, and it includes unionized workers.

I’m a unionized worker. I’ve been on the collective bargaining team four times in the last ten years. I know how difficult it can be, even when – as in the case of my workplace – both sides come to the table with an attitude of respect and a genuine desire to make fair and reasonable changes to our collective agreement.

I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to go into bargaining against an unjustifiably arrogant boss who lacks experience and wisdom, who is openly contemptuous of the union, who swaggers and brags about how tough he is, and who combines a love of power with a lack of leadership.

I’m not saying the other side has done everything perfectly either. The local’s president, Andre Cornellier, surely alienated much of the public with this unseemly attack. I would think that public opinion would be a powerful thing to have on your side in a strike that affects the public so profoundly. Cornellier apparently sees the public in an adversarial light, which could potentially become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In spite of Cornellier’s outburst, my support remains with the bus drivers. I have no problem with workers trying to keep good jobs good.


9 comments to Dr. Seuss to Mayor Larry: Mad not Sad

  • XUP

    I’m feeling for the bus drivers too, but mainly because they’re going to get the brunt of the disgruntlement. And I agree with everything you said. I do want to say though that the union doesn’t always represent the workers or their best interests. In this case, I would venture to say that most drivers would have been happy to take the city’s offer given the current economic climate, the fact that they make a decent living and have good benefits already and that the offer was substantially better than what most people will be getting this year (including all those who have been laid off just before this wonderful holiday season) and considering that the city is slashing services left right and centre, that OC Transpo is talking about having to cut more services and raise bus fares again in order to survive. And yes, (getting back to the part about agreeing with you), the mayor has been a complete jack-ass as usual which was probably the main reason this offer was rejected.

  • I really think it’s about control of working hours, not money. The city (aided by the media) is playing up the financial offer because it is in their interest to do so. But what they are really doing is asking for major concessions from the workers – and that is something worth striking over. The “union” is not something separate from the members – the members voted 98% in favour of striking. They gave a clear mandate to their negotiators.

  • Gilles

    When I clicked the “unseemly attack” link in your blog entry, I was surprised to see a Michael O’Byrne interview with Cornellier — because I saw one that I considered even more damning with Carol-Ann Meehan on tonight’s CJOH News at 6. No matter how legitimate the demands and grievances, the guy looked like a total bully and an complete idiot, refusing to provide more than one-word answers Carol-Anne’s polite questions — to me it was even more rude than his demeanour in the O’Byrne interview earlier in the day. I hope the two idiots (Cueball & Corny) are removed from the whole process as soon as possible…I feel sorry for everyone who must venture out tomorrow…
    (I’m taking the day off.)

  • “sad” seems entirely inappropriate to me too.

    *sigh* politicians *sigh*

  • J.

    “It’s all about inconvenience” -Andre Cornellier

  • The employer here is effectively the government, which makes for a special case. The government has a big effect on everyone, and everyone wants it to operate smoothly and effectively.

    It is almost always logical to side with the government in the event of public sector strikes, precisely because the people who suffer most are the public at large.

    There may be cases where the grievance of the workers is sufficient to justify the disruption, but I think the onus is definitely on them to prove that.

  • AJT

    The mayor is insensitive to the reality of many people’s lives. He doen’t have to take the bus. His reality is buffered by money, prestige and ego. The Union, I have no answer but their timing sucks just like Steven Harper. Its the average citizen who goes to work and listens to news about downsizing, economic hard times, cholera, riots, etc. How can we sympathize with either party. Its the citizen who looses out.

    We should be out their rioting, maybe the Union and the Mayor would take notice.

  • “Students are trying to get to exams. Seniors and people with disabilities are trying to remain independent. Some people do their grocery shopping by bus. There are people who are going to lose their jobs because they can’t get to work.”

    The GoC defines an essential service as: “a service, facility or activity of the Government of Canada that is or will be, at any time, necessary for the safety or security of the public or a segment of the public”.

    Transit in Ottawa is an essential service.

    I found a site you might be interested in:

  • I hope you would not mind if I posted a part of %BLOGTITLE% on my univeristy blog?