Saturday, April 26, 2008

TTC On Strike; Miller: "I Make The Trains Run On (NDP) Time."

Last night I was standing at the corner of King and Cowan, waiting for a bus to take me all the way to Yonge Street. It was 11:50 p.m., and I'd been waiting for about 20 minutes. Accompanying me on the other side of the telephone pole was another guy, whom I didn't know, but who was getting progressively more agitated as the minutes passed.

Finally, at about midnight, a guy rode by on a bike and told us the TTC had gone on strike. "They walked off an hour ago. Better get a cab."

I looked at my fellow (putative) commuter; he looked at me. "I knew it," he said. "I knew it! I knew it!"

"Yeah, you knew it," I agreed, deferring to his prescience.

"I knew they were gonna do it. I knew they were gonna do it tonight! I knew it."

"If you knew it, then why've you been waiting here for the past thirty minutes?"

He was silent for a minute; then, as if punctuating a thought, he jabbed the air with his fist, revealing, under his coat, a sweater with a large red TTC crest emblazoned on his breast. "It's my shift change, man!"

Who knows if TTC workers deserve more money. My inclination is to say they deserve whatever they can get. But it's time to let arbitrators make that decision. It's unacceptable that 1.5 million people in the GTA be forced to the sidewalks on Monday morning. Having once spent four hours walking from Union Station to Finch and Yonge, I know that hoofing it is a chafing and blistering option. Imagine living at Hwy 7 and Islington. Better to stuff yourself inside a cannon, point it at King and Bay, and hope for the best.

Why did this happen? Maintenance workers felt they were being shafted. The new contract would have them potentially out of work in months or years. The plan, of course, was to fly the buses to India, torque the manifold for twelve cents/hour, then A400 it home. Yes, that probably would have happened. But do most Torontonians care? Well, weigh 1.5 million commuters against a few thousand TTC mechanics and you'll get your answer.

Wake me when we start charring public servants for their huge salaries. The head of OPG makes enough to gold-plate his eyelash curlers. That's capitalism, folks. It even exists in the public sector. People want what's coming to them.

The TTC is an essential service. Period. Watching Dalton McGuinty blank-stare his way through yet another "children-are-our-future" speech'll give you an indication of why transit hasn't been legislated beyond the reach of union action. And David Miller...well, he is to governance what Barbara Hall is to jet kerosene refining. The GTA's new motto is "Toronto Happens...Eventually."

We'll see what happens. I'm sure they'll be back by Tuesday. But what a helluva three-day weekend.

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