Sunday, April 27, 2008

TTC An Essential Service?

So, a lot of people keep bringing up the idea of making the TTC and essential service. Most really like the idea of making it illegal for the various unions comprising the TTC to strike. But what people like Adam Giambrone, the TTC chairman, keep trying to say in interviews is that it's not quite as simple as that. He says that taking away the right to strike means that the arbitrators who decided on the contracts are more sympathetic to the union and, in general, taxpayers and riders will end up paying more.

In my opinion, the TTC should be made an essential service. It clearly fits the definition of the term. Huge numbers of people rely on the TTC to get to work, school, groceries, etc. And in this time where people are increasingly growing concerned about the environment, shouldn't public transit be considered essential?

But, also in my opinion, the TTC effectively IS an essential service already. Within 12 hours of this strike, the Ontario premier recalled the legislature for the next day to force them back to work and appoint and arbitrator. So, back to work within 48 hours, with arbitration! Giambrone, when talking about the realities of the TTC as an essential service, says that there have been only four strike days since 1990. But, there have been multiple strikes since then, they've just been very quickly legislated back to work each time. So, if the government quickly quashes any strikes and appoints arbitrators to settle things, if we can't seem to deal with more than a day of striking at a time, then how is this really any different than an essential service? They spent a few weeks negotiating first. It just seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too.

But if every time a contract is up, negotiations fail anyway and we go to arbitration, does the city actually lose anything by making the TTC an essential service and automatically going to arbitration? It seems like we won't. And the TTC clearly seems essential.

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