Friday, January 2, 2009

Public reaction after the strike

Local media have not written much about post-strike Ottawa. How will OC Transpo riders react to the drivers behind the wheel? Will it be peaceful? Well, at least one driver, Noah Vineberg, wrote on ATU 279's strike website that he is thinking about potential violence.
I personally hold [Ottawa mayor] Larry O'Brien responsible for any violence or threat that is incurred upon me. I promise here in writing that if I am assaulted on the job in the coming months - I will hire a lawyer and sue O'Brien for creating an unsafe work environment for me.
Whether or not Vineberg is seriously worried about violence is unclear, but he has pointed out what is something of an elephant in the room. Media might not report these kinds of stories for fear of inciting violence based on pure speculation. Maybe that's the most responsible thing to do.

And this post isn't meant to incite any action against the drivers. That should be discouraged at every opportunity. We're simply shedding light on something worth thinking about when the strike does eventually come to an end.

15 comments:

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david said...

People might write harsh things in a blog comment or say them in a phone-in to a trash radio show, but once they're dealing face-to-face again, nearly all drivers and passengers will be at least civil, if not friendly.

North Americans have dealt with teachers' strikes, doctors' strikes, and garbage strikes, all of which are much more serious than a transit strike, and things always go back to normal fairly quickly afterwards.

Dean said...

The union has said all along that they have a right to strike and that they have chosen to exercise it. Nobody from the city, OC Transpo or the public forced it on them. Eight months with out a contract it not a big deal. We have ten's of thousands of civil servants in the city who manage to wait and negotiate longer.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Vineberg,

Don't forget to sue Andre Cornellier for causing misery to the most vulnerable people in this city, and creating unsafe work environment to many workers including you.

If you disagree, I wouldn't be surprised: that's probably why someone like him is running your union -- it is unthinkable anywhere else.

from
Innocent and poor people who suffer the most in town because of this strike

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Dean said earlier.

Yes the ATU has chosen the action and the timing, of course they won't be forced into a strike.
I read somewhere that the previous ATU head went through something like 40 weeks of negotiation.

I believe the service will be declared essential, this is the end of the union career of the ATU "leadership" -- you only have to watch how angry and afraid they are.

Anonymous said...

Way to take responsibility for your own actions. The drivers are getting more and more out of touch with reality.

Noah Vineberg said...

I would like to point out that the mayor has chosen to ignore ``good faith bargaining`` and has taken these private negotiations public. He has skewed the truth and encouraged the public to take sides and react. He went over the negotiators heads and shared information that would normally be kept in private discussions. Some of his mistruths and misrepresentations - along with his obvious lack of respect for drivers ( referred to us as characters ) goes a long way in tilting the public`s view and lack of respect for drivers.
There will no doubt be violence on the drivers upon their return, as assaults and violence to drivers has increased dramatically in the few years prior to this strike. I personally in 7yrs of service have been punched in the face twice, spit on twice, had a knife flashed at me in threat for a day pass and a gun pointed in my face for no reason what so ever. To say that these incidents won`t increase or become more extreme is simply ignorant.
I said that I will hold him responsible, I stand by it, his actions have promoted disrespect toward drivers, his words have promoted disrespect to drivers and has placed blame for all of this on the drivers. He is absolutely partly responsible for creating an unsafe working environment for me upon my return.

Noah Vineberg.

Dean said...

I've been assaulted on the bus and seen people assaulted on the bus. And have on several occasions gotten together with other passengers to force somebody off the bus because they were clearly a threat. And in nearly every case the bus driver did nothing. Calling security or the police seemed to not be a priority. If you wanna trade scary bus or bad driver/passenger stories I'm sure it can go all day.
The union chose the job action it chose the time and made it clear it was aiming for maximum disruption. Full strike action was not the only job action available to the union.
As the bus sign says respect is a two way street. Divers seem to be ignoring the riders and taxpayers.
When this is over drivers will still get a pay increase and riders will still get a rate increase.

Michelle said...

I'd like to see how the transit union can spin this next time...

Let's see how they did it so far:

- It is about respect not about money",
- It's about family time, or lack of it, remember the shooting a few years ago?
[It seems that the gunman happened to be a single]
- The strike has not been long enough for the fed to force a vote
[Please tell the public how long is long enough]
- The last two offers are not significantly different enough for the members to vote
[Sir, that's rather your own opinion, not all the members'...]

Anonymous said...

It is about money: offer them a contract that keeps the scheduling but takes away any pay increase and the bonus, listen what they have to say!

Besides, the unsafe work environment that has already been around prior to this strike (as described by the Union) had NOTHING to do with the scheduling that is the main reason for this strike (according to the Union)!

ATU: can you please tell us how you can make your work environment safer by keeping the current scheduling?

Louise said...

Noah said that "the mayor has chosen to ignore ``good faith bargaining`` and has taken these private negotiations public." First of all, it isn't good faith bargaining if nobody's actually willing sit down and bargain (this goes for both the city AND the union). This is day 25 of the strike. How many of those days were actually spent trying to bargain? 3 or 4?

That aside, the minute the union decided to go on strike, it stopped being a private issue. After all, you have to expect that if you inconvenience the public like this, they become involved because you're impacting them directly. They're going to demand reasons why (and they'd better be good), and as this drags on, they're going to demand signs of progress as well.

Cornellier has had plenty of chances to respectfully and intelligently explain to the public why we should support the drivers. Instead, he makes comments like, "inconveniencing people! What's wrong with that?" and causing "maximum disruption", as if each of us citizens were personally responsible for trying to screw the union over, and should be punished. He had his chance to say something intelligent and gain support, but instead he's made it a personal affront to the people of Ottawa.

I do not support violence against drivers (or anyone) in any way, but
perhaps the union leaders should have thought about the cause-and-effect relationship between the disrespectful attitude toward the public & "maximum disruption", and increasingly angry citizens.

As Dean said, respect can go a long way... in both directions.

Anonymous said...

if it is about respect how about hanging big "we respect bus driver" signs and banners and wearing "we respect bus drivers" ribbons and tshirts an buttons.?THEN WILL YOU BAST@RDS GO BACK TO PH*KING WORK?????

Anonymous said...

Noah, you need to take a hard look at yourself and your union. Whether or not the negotiations had been taken public, citizens of Ottawa would have taken sides as this strike directly affects (read: disrupts) their daily routines. You can hold Larry O'Brien responsible all you want but this wasn't his decision... to be honest, I'm not all that surprised. Through all of this, your union has proven itself to be immature, thoughtless, and unreasonable so I wouldn't expect anything less.

Oh, and you DO know you'll need MONEY to sue O'Brien, right? And probably a lot of it since I bet Larry's got some good high-priced lawyers. Better get back to work and start saving...

Anonymous said...

I tend to disagree. A bus driver has to drive in less hospitable neighbourhoods every day where members of the community are more likely to express their anger. Vandalism has already been spotted at various bus stops across Ottawa.

Doctor, teacher and garbage strikes do not result in job losses. Those who have nothing to lose because of this strike pose a concern to bus drivers, I think.

If the OC-Transpo employees vote for the City's proposal, they'll essentially be saying that they didn't want this strike either. The Ottawa community's anger would be redirected toward the ATU. André Cornellier would be forced to step down. And the bus drivers would have a better chance to get the scheduling they want with a different Union President.

Lets face it, André Cornellier is a horrible public speaker, and an even more horrible Union representative. He has no credibility and obviously no diplomatic know-how (or else, the strike would have lasted less than a week). I don't know, but I bet he would have a far better chance to get the scheduling freedom he wanted had he asked for a far less ridiculous pay increase in the the midst of a global economic crisis.

If I were an OC-Transpo employee, I'd vote for the City's proposal hoping to replace André with someone more competent.

Anonymous said...

Well said. It seems as though a lot of ATU 279 members are voting with the union simply because they don't want to be traitors to their fellow members. But voting with the City would show solidarity with citizens, rather than unsympathetic union leadership, and improve drivers' image. This would hopefully result in a safe environment upon return, although there are a lot of irrational, stupid people out there. But that will never change.