Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 president Andre Cornellier spent part of yesterday exhorting his union members to stop taking the easy way out, as picketing downtown was once again sparse at best.Although drivers and other members speaking out against their union are few and far between, this could be a sign of a growing rift between the union's membership and its members. In the face of intense public pressure, criticism, and--increasingly--hostility, drivers may be looking for a way to protest the city's hardline stance without angering the city's already-intensely inconvenienced publics. Of course, the Union's leadership, led by Cornellier, seems to be basing their decisions on what will create the largest impact on the city, and thus its citizens, in order to impress upon Mayor Larry O'Brien and the City's negotiating team how important OC Transpo and its drivers are to us all.
"I came here the first day and there were 200 people here," Cornellier said at OC Transpo headquarters on St. Laurent Blvd., where a large contingent of workers were picketing.
"I wanted them to go downtown and nobody would go."
This decision, however, seems to be giving O'Brien more credibility and support in playing hardball (at least for the moment), while the drivers--many of whom would rather not be on strike--face the brunt of the public outrage. The citizens, after all, would be valuable allies in the ATU's fight against the City, but the union has been losing the battle of public opinion, to date.