Spadina Station displays some anti-strike sentiment the weekend of
The Red Rocket rides again. But where she's headed nobody knows after a bizarre weekend that began with a last-minute strike at the stroke of midnight Friday and ended Sunday with the labour-friendly NDP supporting Liberal back-to-work legislation.
Somebody get us off this roller coaster.
The great mystery is why all of a sudden Bob Kinnear, the TTC union head who rose to stardom when he led the troops out on a wildcat a few years back, signed a deal that no one else on the union executive would.
To borrow from Lecter's script, "What was the quid pro quo, Clarice?"
When he first came on the scene, the slick-haired Kinnear, styled himself after another labour bully, former police union head Craig Bromell. This time around, though, Kinnear seemed to be soft-pedalling from the get-go. There would be no wild cat, he declared, perhaps recognizing the importance of keeping public opinion on the union's side. A work-to-rule campaign was as far as Kinnear was prepared to go if push came to shove. One paper in particular noted his more "mature" tact in his handling of contract talks.
We were impressed, too. Until, that is, everything went kablooie. Had Kinnear matured, or had he just lost touch with the membership?
The city seemed to have acquiesced to the union's key demands when a tentative deal was announced last week that included a three per cent pay increase that would make TTC drivers the best paid in the GTA. Improved benefits and stronger language around contracting out were, reportedly, also part of the package.
But for the slugs driving buses, collecting fares, and sweeping platforms, $26 an hour just doesn't cut it anymore. Ralph Kramden doesn't work at the TTC anymore. Sick days and absenteeism numbers keep rising. Hostilities between employees and management are at an all-time high. TTC brass take home 100-grand plus per year with full benefits, while workers have to bring a note from the doctor when they call in sick, or get docked a day's pay.
The union membership is right to fear contracting out. The TTC has already said it will not require more than 25 per cent Canadian content from those bidding on the new streetcar contract. Does the lack of Canuck content mean repairs and maintenance will have to be done off site?
McGuinty can order the TTC back to work, but it's precisely because the province has failed to restore full funding cut during the Harris madness that the system's falling apart - leaving workers in the line of fire.
Perhaps having the TTC declared an essential service, as pols are now considering post-debacle, will help the TTC win more lucrative contracts in future. The designation has certainly helped the cops and firefighters in that regard.
For Kinnear, however, the train may have already left the station.