The most recently-rejected offer (which you can read on the City's website, click here) from the city included wage increases of three, two, and two percent over the next three years, according to the Ottawa Citizen. That offer wasn't submitted to a vote of union members because, according to union President André Cornellier, the offer--a quarter of a percent higher than the previous one--wasn't significantly different from a previous vote that the union voted 98 percent against accepting. In the Citizen story, Cornellier suggested that bigger issues of "the scheduling of drivers, improved sick leave and contracting out of maintenance" remain unresolved.
Although the Citizen's new format doesn't enable comments, a similar article on CBC.ca had a number of comments reflecting a swing of public opinion in favour of the City's position on the issue. Some of the comments make sweeping generalizations about the drivers, some are condemnations of the union, but here are a few of the most well-stated:
"The greed of this union amazes me. Job losses are soaring all over the country yet our transit workers feel that they deserve more, and have decided to cut-off essential services until they get it. And the sad part is, they'll probably get their way. Has anyone in the union stopped to think about people who can't afford alternative methods of transportation and will lose their income because of this? I'm sure the extra sick days are worth it though... " --Anon1234On the LiveJournal OCTranspo community (which includes a lot of drivers commenting), there's more anti-OC Transpo sentiment, but there also some sympathy for the drivers on there:
"I hope the transit workers come to their senses and rebel against this Union. Their hostage taking tactics are doing nothing to gain them public respect, nor for those they represent. Quite the opposite in fact!" --Dee of Canada
"Keep this up and the PEOPLE WHO PAY YOUR CHEQUES will start their own war cry...PRIVATIZE OC TRANSPO!!!! England has privatized their train system and the sky didnt fall. I dont agree with privatizing everything and often support the labour movement, but this is insane! The union is an out of touch aristocracy who have a disgusting sense of entitlement. I bet we could put off the city tax hike if we privatized OC Transpo and paid these yahoos 15-20$/hr instead of 25-30. Its been done. We can do it too. All that needs to happen is for the public to demand it. Keep it up guys and the public will." -- MTCicero
"It's time OCTranspo had some competition. Who's going to start up a private bus company and see OCTranspo sweat when they realise what competitive business means." --Stanica
"OCTranspo should be an essential service! The city should protect itself from such a mess happenning every three years and just make it impossible for the bus drivers to go on strike." --That Guy
"Personally, I think they should get whatever they want. They're a pretty essential service in the city as far as I'm concerned, and what's the difference between 8 and 10 sick days? Who cares?! Get them what they want so the buses can get back on the streets so we're not all suffering and feeling punished!" --elektrafying
"Sorry Ottawa, but instead of blaming / hating us [OC drivers] for what alot of people feel were about to do to the city, look at your city and ask them why they've abandoned you at this time of year... Our contract expired on April 1st of this year, it take 2 parties to negotiate a contract." --billybigrig
"The wages aren't the issue, this is about scheduling, contracting out, and sick days. If they offered the same wage package, but left the booking process alone, amended the contracting out a bit, and made the sick days more in line with what office staff at OC get (they get 12 days/yr, we get 6, and they are allowed to carry unused days forward or get them paid out, we are not), then the contract would be a done deal!" --niceocdriver
And finally, (and most importantly?) the comments right here on Public Transit in Ottawa are strongly against the demands of the ATU:
"Comments left on CBC and CTV web sites are overwhelmingly against OC Transpo drivers.And this in the middle of exam week. A great real-life lesson for students on the power of unions over the little guy." --Klaus
"Greediness will not get you far. It's about time to teach the lesson that having a tantrum does not always mean you get what you want! In times where money is tight, it's a shame they feel a higher raise is deserved. Many of us have had to forego larger wage increases this year just to ensure we still have jobs. I cannot begin to express how disgusted I am with how they are acting, wanting more money than is available to go around. Quit complaining and be thankful for your job!" --Anonymous
"1. Public transit should become an essential service (like health care).
"2. It is utterly disgusting that they show so much greed while the rest of the world is tightening the belt during the present economic hardship. It is not the time to insist on getting more. Not while hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs. Short term victories acquired through poor attitude can only result in longterm dire consequences. I wouldn't be surprised if their greed would push the system into either making them an essential service (therefore forbidding them from going on strike) or privatizing the transit system (in which case, if they'll wish they hadn't pushed so far that it came to shove)." --Anonymous