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OC Transpo turns corner as strike ends, arbitration agreed to

Strike one bus strike. It’s over! I was as sick of it as you were, and doubly sick of writing about it.

Strike one bus strike.

It’s over!

I was as sick of it as you were, and doubly sick of writing about it.

Honestly, given Metro’s significant bus-board readership, I sometimes wondered if this was even being read.

In Toronto and Calgary, the Freethought Association of Canada plans to kick off the Canadian Atheist Bus campaign with ads on buses proclaiming, “There’s probably no God.

Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Here, local clergy gathered at city hall Monday to say, “There’s still no God-damned bus!”
I paraphrase, of course.

Indeed, three clutches of demonstrators froze their franchises off on Monday to rally for an end to this cruel, stupid, debilitating transit strike.

One marked characteristic of all three was the way in which participants largely stuck to the point: The city needs buses.

There was little attempt to identify the bad guy, to apportion the blame to the city or the union.
What a change from so much of the intemperate indoor punditry on the Internet or talk radio, where armchair screeds against unions or personal attacks on the mayor, composed in room temperature comfort, have grown commonplace.

The demonstrators gathered in assaultive cold weather to put both the city and the union on notice.

The result?

The next day, after a brief flirtation with actual talks, both sides bailed and returned to their bunkers, returning to their winning strategy of blaming each other for the impasse.

The union added some economic stimulus to the local media by joining the city’s propaganda war, purchasing their own newspaper ads.

Bravo.

But then Labour Minister Rona Ambrose, who has bounced between my-hands-are-tied inaction, to forcing a union vote, and then back to inaction again, on Wednesday floated the possibility of back-to-work legislation, likely with an arbitrator stepping in to dictate the settlement of the union contract.

An emergency debate was called for Thursday night, but before it could even begin, peace broke out.

On Thursday evening, Mayor Larry O’Brien, Amalgamated Transit Union international vice-president Randy Graham and ATU 279 president Andre Cornellier told media they had tentatively agreed to send all outstanding issues to binding arbitration without any preconditions.

While the ATU said it couldn’t say exactly when buses will return, officials said they were anxious to get service back on the street.

And although the agreement ends the strike, there is still no resolution to the contract dispute.

But more details on when bus service will return are expected after council meets Friday.

One has to wonder: Is this new development born of a desire to get the place looking a bit less pathetic for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit next month?

Either way, we’ll take it.

 
 
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