Late last week, Ottawa’s 2,300 unionized transit workers decided to delay a vote concerning the possibility of any future strikes.
The vote, which would’ve happened Thursday — but which will now likely happen in September — is a necessary next step following a proposal by union leaders to waive the right to strike and move immediately to arbitration during collective bargaining disputes.
Citing too many questions about how such a proposal would affect them, the drivers, mechanics and dispatchers involved say they need more time.
Certainly, decisions made without adequate information are not ideal.
And a decision like this, that affects not only the OC Transpo drivers, but really everyone in the city, is extra important that it not be made in haste.
When OC transit workers walked off the job for 53 long days this past winter, everyone suffered — including the drivers.
So, a plan that would ensure something like that never happens again would seem like the best solution for everyone.
But there are some not so secret questions about the leadership of the ATU local 279 union — the union representing the drivers.
Calling it “internal politics,” OC Transpo president Andre Cornellier said some union members want the election of a new executive to take place before making any further votes about their future.
Depending on where your sympathies fell during the strike, the vocal and provocative Cornellier might have come across as either a villain or a hero.
The vote for a new executive will happen Wednesday and Thursday, and could very well mean that Cornellier is no longer at the helm.
But if getting some new blood in their union executive is the drivers’ real motivation for delaying the vote to end future strikes, and not the call for more information, then it’s a safe bet the proposal for binding arbitration will pass and we will see no more strikes.
After all, binding arbitration was what finally ended the labour dispute this past summer.
If it was a good solution then, why can’t it be a good solution for the future?
If the union and the city were to make sure the buses never get parked again, it would do a lot to restore the public’s faith in a system that left us in the cold last winter.