Bus service to resume February 9

Ottawa Citizen breaking news: OC Transpo back on the road Feb. 9

OC Transpo bus service will resume on Feb. 9, with the system running at about 80 per cent of full capacity, Ottawa’s transit director Alain Mercier said Friday. That includes 60 per cent of peak-hour service and 100 per cent of off-peak service, he said.

So, a little more than a week of same old, same old and then a return to (no doubt somewhat cranky) normalcy.


Deal nearly done to settle transit strike?

Breaking news from Ottawa Citizen: Deal nearly done to settle transit strike

The city and its largest transit union are making a dramatic push to reach an agreement to end the transit strike ahead of federal legislation sending 2,300 OC Transpo workers back on the job.

A number of city councillors are in Mayor Larry O’Brien’s office now, working on the effort. Mr. O’Brien is expected to make an announcement shortly.

“It looks good. It’s going to be good,” one councillor said.

This comes on the heels of news that the federal government was going to be looking into back-to-work legislation. See Day 51: Area MPs willing to legislate Transpo back to work.

According to CTV, the deal is done, but I haven’t seen anything about it in the Ottawa Citizen.

The City of Ottawa and the Amalgamated Transit Union have reached a deal that will end a public transit strike that has paralyzed the nation’s capital for 51 days.

Both sides have agreed to put the contract dispute to binding arbitration.

Although an agreement has been made, it will still take at least one week to get the first round of buses serviced and back on the roads.

Dammit, this better not be a tease.

Hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel

But not really expecting any.

I wasn’t able to take part in the demonstrations that took place yesterday on Parliament Hill and at City Hall. I’m sorry more people didn’t turn up but more turned up than I expected —  it’s hard to get to something like that, especially in weather this cold, without, oh, say, public transportation.

Talks are apparently continuing today, though there is still a media blackout on the details. The optimist in me would like to think something will come of that that will end the strike sooner rather than later. But the apathetic realist in me isn’t really holding out a great deal of hope.

It’s weird job hunting, knowing there are jobs I could, should be applying for but can’t because the jobs are too far away to walk (even if I could) and too expensive to cab to. Having a mild panic attack today.

I think I’m done

Unless something remarkable happens, I think I’m done blogging about the bus strike. Day after day, it’s more of the same old same old. Day 40 is much the same as Day 10. It’s a little depressing.

Instead, I’ve added RSS feeds for Google news and blog searches for Ottawa + bus + strike + OC Transpo to the right sidebar.

Late night offer under consideration

Ottawa Citizen: Transit union to give decision today on late-night proposal from council

Union leaders are meeting Saturday morning to consider Ottawa city council’s latest proposal to end the transit strike and are scheduled to announce their decision by early afternoon. […]

Early Saturday morning, council unanimously approved a motion stating the city will enter binding arbitration — on three conditions. Council said they will enter the process if the union agrees that all issues, including scheduling, are part of it; that any final agreement addresses federal safety rules for drivers on hours of work and rest; and that the price tag of any agreement doesn’t exceed the overall amount represented in the city’s last offer, which was rejected by union members nine days ago.

Much as I hate the idea of showing weakness, too many people are being adversely affected by this strike. How people have lost their jobs because they couldn’t get to work without the bus? How many businesses are threatened due to revenue losses?

The news came to me initially through the Ottawa Citizen’s Facebook group, OC Transpo Strike Survivor, which also has an ongoing discussion about ways you can tell if you’re a bus strike survivor (they’re up to #60 now).

Edited to add later on in afternoon: Ah well, it was a short-lived hope. Should be no surprise that the union ultimately rejected the proposal. *sigh*

Digging in for the long haul

Day 37 of the Ottawa bus strike draws to a close.

Nice to see some local politicians siding with the union over the city’s handling of the bus strike. Not. We’re being held hostage — we need the city council to stand firm, rather than rolling over and baring their soft bellies.

Don’t know how yesterday’s continuation of the council meeting went. There hasn’t really been any mention in the news about it so far today.

Thursday, January 15 articles:

Orleans Star: Union only hurting itself

Talk on the street swings from one extreme to the other. Few can understand how, in this tough economic climate when thousands are losing their jobs, a union can be so stubborn in its demands. Some call for privatization of OC Transpo, others call for the city to fire all the striking members, while some have just given up and swear they’ll never ride a bus again.

It’s not looking good for the future of public transportation in this city. There’s really no question whether ridership will drop when workers get back on the job. It will.

Renfrew Mercury: Council resumes closed-door session on transit strike

Not only would the city not be able to find 2,300 qualified drivers, Cullen said the replacement drivers could be at risk of violence from the striking workers and other unions in the city.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said hiring replacement drivers is not as easy as it sounds.

“It sounds good on paper. It sounds tough,” Harder said, but added the licensing laws make it difficult to hire replacement workers.

Ottawa Citizen: City prepared to hire ‘fact-finder’ in transit dispute

The city, as long as the union agrees, will hire an independent, third-party “fact finder” to report to both sides on the city’s new scheduling proposals that have led to the now 37-day-old transit strike, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick said Thursday.

Blah blah blah bus strike continues yada yada

Big surprise that the strike vote went 75% in favour of rejecting the city’s offer. Not.

Most people that I’ve talked to today are even less supportive of the striking bus workers than they were before, if that’s possible. There is some bitterness but mostly it’s a firm, don’t-give-in-to-the-union, hunkering down for a long seige kind of thing. I expect this to go on for a long time.

More news from last couple of days:

And other sites:

  • ATU Local 279’s strike site – Chock full of yummy union goodness (OK, “goodness” isn’t the word I was really thinking but I think you knew that)

[This post was originally written mostly on January 8 and partly on January 9 for intended publication on January 9, but technical issues prevented me from doing that. So it was pre-dated and published on January 13 instead.]

Strike vote day

Ottawa snow storm, January 7, 2009
Snow storm and empty Transitway

Day 30. Vote day.

Wonder if the turnout will be affected by all the snow that fell yesterday (15 cm, plus another 10 cm expected by rush hour this morning).

Cue the thriller music. Duhn duhn DUUUHN. What will happen? Will the city be rescued in time? Or is Superman stuck in traffic?

There’s a Citymark page for the strike that pulls relevant information from various social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Youtube, and photo repositories like Flickr.

Latest news articles (there aren’t many since there really isn’t much to write about that hasn’t already been written until after the voting today)

Other interesting sites:

The day before The Day

So, day 29 of the strike dawns. (Well, not dawns in the technical sense — it’s only 1:45am — but you know what I mean.)

Some new news items for your consideration, as we wait for the strike vote tomorrow:

Metro: Transit options considered

In a special meeting to discuss the strike, city council voted to examine a variety of transportation strategies, including vehicular traffic on the Transitway, enhancing taxi service and creating parking incentives for carpoolers.

Funny, I was just thinking how nice and quiet it is here without the buses continually going up and down the Transitway. I’d hate to see it opened up for regular traffic, though we might as do something with it if the buses aren’t going to be using it. Maybe open it up fully to pedestrian/bicycle traffic. (Right now, you can only walk on certain sections of it.)

Metro: Public support in favour of city

Close to 70 per cent of Ottawa residents feel the issues in the transit strike are important enough that they would rather put up with the strike for another month than see the city back down, according to a recently conducted Harris/Decima survey.

Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

It’ll be interesting to see the statistics on the vote after tomorrow: how many actually voted and what the percentages end up being. Both sides are so sure things will go their way, but I suspect many union members are still undecided.

(By the way, a three-card reading done on Tuesday says that the vote will be a “Yes”. You heard it here first. LOL)

Tuesday strike news

You know, I was thinking earlier tonight (Monday night — sorry, it’s 4am and I haven’t been to bed yet) that they might actually vote Yes to accept the offer on the table on Thursday. But after reading some recent news articles, I’m no longer so sure that enough will. Many appear to be ready for this to go on for a long time. The city appears prepared to let that happen. So if the strikers vote no, the stand off is likely to continue until someone blinks. Who that will be, I don’t know but the only losers are the members of the public.

Granted, most of the union members interviewed for the articles are either senior employees or not-quite-so-new-but-not-yet-senior employees who see themselves creeping closer and closer to the vaunted “senior” status. They’re the ones most concerned about not being in control of scheduling.

Ottawa Citizen: Transpo union members fill meeting to overflowing

The large hall at St. Elias Cathedral near Mooney’s Bay was filled to overflowing as about 2,000 people turned out to hear a plea from their union leaders to vote against the city’s latest offer. A flyer circulated by the union said: “Your bargaining committee unanimously urges you to vote No in this forced vote.”

Ottawa Citizen: Transit union leaders confident members will vote No (This is a particularly interesting article in that it gives a glimpse into the meeting. I’m afraid it doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to the cause.)

“If 51 per cent of us — 50 per cent plus one — vote Yes to this contract, (the union) is finished. It’s finished. That’s why it’s important to vote No… They think they’re going to get 50 plus one, because if they do, we’re finished. … So please, please, brothers and sisters, please vote No and let’s show them that the mayor, Alain Mercier (the head of OC Transpo) … and the public will not decide what working conditions we’re going to have in the workplace.”

Ottawa Citizen: City says it won’t ‘cave’ to transit union’s demands

Emboldened by what they say is strong public support for their position, city councillors say they will not “cave” if striking transit workers vote down a contract offer later this week.

That reality, though, has some worried that the strike could last much, much longer if the union spurns the offer on Thursday.