Sunday, 12 April 2015

Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

I had an exchange this morning with a few union members who felt I was too harsh on Craig Watson.

It's tough to explain, but in all honesty, I really have nothing against Watson, the executive, the union, the members, the City, or anyone else involved in this organization. I don't attend union meetings. I'm not involved with committees, or politics. I'm a steering wheel manipulation engineer. I drive people around, and those people are all I really care about, deep down.

The way this membership feels about its union is what I wanted to convey to the public. I feel that the public is owed an explanation if this contract offer gets rejected. The folks I pick up on a daily basis have a stake in Ottawa transit. I think it's important that they know that it's not them, it's us. It's not about money, it's about us. It's not about the City, it's about us.

For all of the anger directed at Craig right now, there are other things the membership should know about his tenure. Craig was instrumental in the passing of Bill s221, and used the ad space on OC Transpo buses to advertise the law. This is the law that makes assaulting a transit operator an aggravating factor in sentencing. Craig negotiated a deal to see cameras installed on all new buses, something that many drivers have been lobbying hard for. It was during this executive tenure that de-escalation training became a part of operator training. In the past three years, over 25000 hours were added to run and recovery times on the scheduling front, although this is not the scheduling issue that drivers complain about the most.

The point is this: It's not all bad at ATU local 279. The membership is fuming mad about meetings that only thirty or so members even bother to attend each month. 

The personal issues with the local really need to be checked at the door before tomorrow's meeting. We cannot let this meeting devolve into a Gongshow and not fully explore the contract.

The city began this negotiation with an offer, and like it or not, Craig's job requires him to sit down and listen to it, then present it to the members. 

It's time for the membership to grow up a little, and do the same. Read the offer, and vote on its merit.

Let cooler heads prevail.

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