Friday, January 16, 2009

One Strike and We're Out!

As I write this, Ottawa is in the midst of a transit strike. Our bus service, OC Transpo, isn't running.

The main sticking point is scheduling. The city wants to take control of driver's schedules. The union wants the drivers to keep control.

My first reaction is "What?! That's absurd! Scheduling is a management duty! I'm totally with the city on this one!"

I was not alone in that. According to Today's Article most people surveyed are on the side of the city.

The cities politicians are in an enviable position. They can allow this strike to go on without fear of losing votes over it. (There are plenty of other ways for them to lose votes!)

Ottawa is the only city in North America, so I've read, that allows drivers to take control of their schedules. In every other city, it's a management duty. In 1999 the driver's took a 2% pay cut for the privilege. They claim that giving the city control over schedules will ruin the personal and family lives of the workers.

So, why would the drivers be so adamant about holding on to scheduling? Why are they so dead set against the city taking control of it? I can think of two possibilities:
  1. The drivers are a bunch of whiners.
  2. The city schedulers are a bunch of moonshine-swilling baboons.

Which is more likely?

The drivers took a pay cut in order to get scheduling control. This isn't a very whiny thing to do.

Having been an OC Transpo rider for a few years, observing how the bus schedule is done, I lean very heavily towards the second option. From what I've read in the news, this is the case.

So, I've changed my mind. I'm on the side of the drivers for now.

It seems to me that there has to be a third option. I don't think this is an issue in other cities. The city has one specific idea of how things should be done. The union has another. There's got to be a third. And a fourth, and a fifth. And so on.

Sometimes, in an argument with two sides represented, the debaters become blind to other possibilities. I have to wonder if I that's what's happening here. I wonder if anyone has thought to ask other cities what they do?

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