Less than a week ago, I posted about early jockeying between the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 279 as the two sides were preparing to negotiate an extension to their agreement to keep OC Transpo buses running. It seemed the hostility between the two sides hadn't faded at all, and didn't bode well for negotiations.
But now, things seem to be a little different. Mayor Jim Watson met with acting president of the ATU 279 Mike Aldrich on Monday to discuss the future of Ottawa public transit (and preventing another transit strike), and Transit Commission acting chair Diane Deans is to meet with Aldrich on Tuesday for the same thing. The two had earlier said their interest was in smoothing relations between OC Transpo and the union, but hadn't done anything to put substance behind their words; opening up communication is a good place to start.
But it takes two sides to negotiate, and it looks like Aldrich is ready to do so now, too. On Monday, in an interview with the Ottawa Sun, Aldrich seemed to be moving forward with the negotiations:
Aldrich said he’s “looking forward” to the upcoming negotiations and hinted that things will be different with the ATU now under his leadership and not that of former president Andre Cornellier.
“It will be a whole new way of negotiating. We’re going to get rid of the adversarial attitude and get along. We (the ATU and the city) want to have a world-class transit system,” he said.
“This is the public’s transit system and I don’t want to use the public as pawns, we had 54 days of that s**t. It’s the last thing we want.”
There's some passion there, and it's a passion to find a proper agreement before push comes to shove and a strike seems inevitable. All of a sudden, I'm fairly optimistic these two sides can figure this thing out.