Another big news update over the weekend, however, is added proof to a possible rift between ATU membership and leadership. The Ottawa Sun's Earl McRae had a column featuring OC Transpo driver Mike Kouri, who suggested that the union has misled its members while setting the stage to go on strike. From the story:
"I'm going to get a petition going with the drivers and have it shoved right in Cornellier's face. There's tremendous pressure on him to have a vote... Even if a majority of the drivers agree (to a new vote, or strike suspension) I doubt he'll go for it ... He has an intimidating way of doing things, he's all hard-nosed.
"It's time he realizes he works for us, it's the decision of the members, not him. Andre Cornellier does not have the authority to refuse to let us vote if we demand it.
"People are really hurting because of the strike, and that includes bus drivers and their families. They've got kids, mortgages and bills, too. It's (the strike) hurting businesses badly. In this world economic crisis, this is no time for a strike. Self-interests have to be sacrificed."
"I voted to reject because we were told you always reject the first offer. But it was not a vote to strike, it was a vote to reject. We were led to believe we'd have another chance to vote if it changed. Well, the offer did change in significant ways between Wednesday and a week later when he (Cornellier) called the strike, but he didn't give us a chance to vote on it."
Kouri has written documentation from OC Transpo general manager Alain Mercier -- dated three days before the strike -- revealing how parts of the offer had changed, such as the signing bonuses for drivers increasing to $2,000 from $1,400, sick days to eight days from six, and, wrote Mercier, "the changes being proposed by management will still allow workers to book quarterly in accordance with their seniority and therefore to work the daily schedule that suits their preferences ... seniority rights will be respected."