Friday, February 06, 2009

One Strike and We're Out! - Part 3

I don't like to call anyone an idiot. This will be one of the hardest posts I've ever written.

If you've been keeping up with the OC Transpo stike, you'll remember about a couple of weeks ago Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour, refused to legislate the bus drivers back to work. She basically said "Solve your own problems. That's what collective bargaining is for."

Then, last week I read Today's Article which states that Rona Ambrose is prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation.

Oh great! Another flip-flopping politician! That's just what we need. *groan*

It turns out she didn't even have to do that. The kids agreed to take everything to binding arbitration with no preconditions. Now 70% of service will be restored on Saturday, February 7. 100% of service won't be restored until April 6.

A few things occur to me about all this:

  • If they can get 70% service up and running in a week, why will it take an additional 2 months for the remaining 30%?
    I hope that they're giving a worst-case scenario. We've already seen the restoration moved up once.

  • André Cornellier is a high-functioning illiterate and needs to be replace as soon as possible. The city continued to make modified counter-offers, which he rejected as being "more of the same." Then, when those counter-offers got into the papers, we could see that it wasn't "more of the same." They city was offering the raises that the union was asking for. In fact, at one point the city said to the union "We're not married to our idea of scheduling. If you can come up with a solution that's safe, and saves money, we're all ears." And what did the union offer? Nothing new, just more of the same. (It's quite possible that I'm wrong about this. If I am, it's the fault of Cornellier not communicating it to me, the public.)

  • A public representative/spokesperson, such as André Cornellier, really needs to be a good public speaker. As can be seen in this article he says "Well, I was not elected by my membership to be a public speaker." He's got that right! The union needs to elect someone who will fight for them, and be a good public speaker.

    The union didn't just lose the media war. They got pwned! They got slaughtered!

    Winning the media was is important. If the union had won the media war, the people would have said to the politicians "End this now, or you lose my vote, and by extension your job." As it was, the city won the war. People were saying to the city "This has been a terrible inconvenience for me, but don't give into their demands!" In other words "You're giving me the shaft, but you're not going to lose my vote over it." What an enviable position for a politician!

    In order to win this media war, all André Cornellier would have had to do is get the people to side against policiticans. How hard can that be? Especially when the main politician is Larry O'Brien! People, by default, take sides against politicians. People aren't necessarily big fans of unions either. If André Cornellier didn't make the following two mistakes he could have won the media war, thus getting the public on his side:
    1. Show more sympathy to those affected by the strike.

    2. Communicate to the public what the strike was all about so that they could understand.

    Instead, he:
    1. Showed no sympathy to the public. He appeared to only care about the striking workers. (Whether this is true or not is debatable, but it's appearance that matters in a media war.)

    2. It took about a month before I started reading in the papers what the union was asking for. To this date, I still hear people talking about the strike, completely misunderstanding the issues. He let us continue on in our ignorance. Forcing workers to spread their working day over 14 hours is ridiculous. Most people understand that. They were in a very sympathetic position. I think communication, or lack thereof, was the culprit.

  • Cornellier said "It is a constitutional right to strike, but the government doesn't take it as a right when they legislate — it's sad."

    No, André, the government refused to interfere when they were asked for the legislation because "that's what collective bargaining is for".

    Then they were going to legislate because they saw that collective bargaining wasn't getting anywhere. After 7 weeks, the union hadn't made any concessions. The strike wasn't any closer to being resolved than it was on the first day. They did what they had to do.

My message to the members of ATU Local 279: When the opportunity to vote in a new Local president, you need to vote someone else in. Get André Cornellier out. He's just hurting you. You need someone who will, not only fight for you, but will be a good communicator, a good public speaker; someone who will get the public on your side.

BTW: Welcome back. It will good to see you again.

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