Ideas to End the Transit Strike

Okay, it’s really nice that we’re all politely waiting for the city and the transit union to settle their little spat. And like good citizens we’re all helping each other out with our errands and appointments and with getting back and forth to work. And lots of people have written stern letters to their councilors, including me, and which, incidentally they don’t read because you just get an instant form letter in reply that doesn’t actually address any of your concerns.

And, instead of working day and night to resolve the issue, our city councilors and the mayor swan off to the Whistler Resort in BC for a little “conference”.

I’m amazed at how incredibly nice and accommodating the people of Ottawa are. Our lives are turned upside down and we just make a few adjustments and carry on. We sit in traffic for 2 hours instead of zipping to work in 15 minutes.

Nobody is doing anything to end this strike.  The province has no jurisdiction. The feds, who could do something, have washed their hands of the whole thing.

Are we going to wait patiently to break Quebec City’s 9-month transit strike record or are we going to take some action? (Who knew tiny little Quebec City even had a transit system?).

We need ideas, people.  We need to take some decisive action instead of sitting here submissively like a pack of whipped dogs.

Some of the better ideas I’ve heard so far are:

Deny everyone who is part of the negotiations the use of their car until they reach a settlement. Woodsy

People in Canada have obviously not seen the movie Speed. Ordinary citizens can commandeer a bus and drive it anywhere in the city really quickly. Just take a bus and say when the strike is over you will bring it back. Canadians are all trusting and stuff the bus yard is probably sitting loaded with buses with keys in them.  Cedarflame

An online petition circulated by Ecology Ottawa

Okay, so let’s put our thinking caps on and get this thing finished. I’m taking ideas from everyone and anyone – no matter how wacky.

Because I’m not very patient and I’m sick of this shit.


Addendum: For those of you who haven’t heard this story of the 60-year-old woman who has been walking 12 hours every day to and from her job, read this from todays’ Ottawa Citizen:  The Survivor. It’s completely insane and mind-boggling.


42 responses to “Ideas to End the Transit Strike

  1. I’d just ask the leader of the union for a number…. “Say a number buddy! Go ahead!” The city says is saving $3M a week with this… Well!! A good part can be to save the future of the Union leader and his coming generations!

    C’mon! Don’t be shy man!

  2. You need to get some computer wizard to write a program that will e mail all your officials union and city. Start it sending a letter per day. Each day the strike continues the frequency goes up. 2 days twice a day 3 days 3 times etc.
    Get another program to do the same thin with phone calls.
    Include everyone who claims they can’t do anything. All the union negotiators, Dalton, Stevie,
    MP, MPP, transport ministers provincial and federal, environment ministers, labour ministers, city councilors, mayor, hell why not the GG as well.
    As the time goes on and the number of people doing this goes up their phones and e mail will be constantly jammed with messages telling them to solve the fucking problem. It would be the digital equivalent of a sixties era sit in. If they won’t do your work they can’t do their own.

  3. GC and I were just discussing this. Here’s what you do. You make the reps from both sides sit down at a real table in a real room and they’re not allowed to leave until they reach an agreement. Essentially you sequester them. As GC says, “Locking Larry in a room wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to Ottawa.” After about 3 days locked in a room with Larry and Mercier, Cornellier would agree to anything just to be allowed out.

  4. Quebec does indeed have a transit system. Don’t know if it has changed, but 20+ years ago when I lived there it majorly sucked.

    As for your problem: Kidnap those responsible. Lock ’em in a room with water but no food or toilet facilities and tell ’em they can come out when they’ve fixed the problem. They’ll settle in under 24 hours.

  5. TTP – I think the fat bribe is going to have to go to the mayor because he doesn’t seem to want an end to this strike at all.

    Bandobras – This sounds way too complex for the wheel spinning bureaucratic minds of Ottawa. The city’s 311 number that they’re encouraging people to call if they need help is always busy already. No one can get through and I suspect it isn’t because they’re helping so many people. I think they just took all their phones off the hook. And their emails are set to automatic reply and delete. I think they have us foiled before we could even begin a campaign like this. The sit-in might work, though.

    Zoom – It’s a good plan. First we need to find a sound-proof room with a table and an open toilet. Then we’ll have to ambush them, kidnap them (and chloroform them just because they deserve to be chloroformed for a while) and lock them in. Someone to feed and water them and a tame lawyer to draw up the paperwork. Only problem is, will they have to abide by the agreement they signed seeing as how it was signed under duress? Can we videotape the whole thing and do a live web broadcast? Oh, oh and can we have speakers in the room so people can come by and make comments to them – like a speaker’s corner thing?

    Ellie – See above

    Jazz – Quebec City is so small. Can’t you walk the whole thing in like 15 minutes? I guess the transit system must be for the rural areas?? And, the kidnap/sequester idea seems to be a favorite among 3 out of 5 commenters so far.

  6. Didn’t Maven have an idea that involved Larry O’Brien and the head of the union playing a game that consists of kicking each other in the groin and last one standing wins?

    Sounded good to me.


    But seriously. There are several protests/ralllies being organized on facebook and the like. I suggest these be held both at City Hall and at any OC picket lines. Peaceful blockade on city hall and picket the picket lines.

  8. Alison – I didn’t see that one or I would have included it in the post. The only problem I see with this idea is that neither or them have any balls so it could go on forever.

    Ruhh – Can you provide some links for these sites? I’ve been looking for just this type of thing. Thanks

  9. All great ideas, if they were workable. And let’s face it, online petitions are a waste of time and bandwidth. Did Dubya end the war in Iraq because of an online petition? Did Maher Arar get his multi-million-dollar settlement from the Canadian government because of an online petition? Get real.

    Rallies and demonstrations are good venues at which to vent, but after a while, they lose their impact, too. Did you know, for instance, that every weekend since Israel began attacking Hamas targets in Gaza, a group of Jews and Palestinians has been demonstrating on Parliament Hill? Most of the local and national media covered the first one. After that, it’s not news, it’s same old same old.

    Sorry to be pragmatic here, but however long it takes, this stupid strike will eventually be settled one way or another, by letting it run its course. Hopefully, some sanity will prevail, and the two sides will reach common ground sooner rather than later.

    As far as the Whistler trip and any other city business goes, the world must continue to turn and City Council must tend to ALL the business of the city however councillors see fit. It’s called democracy, people, and that’s why we elected them. If we don’t like their version of “the way they see fit”, we can vote them out in November, 2010. Unfortunately, the term is now four years long (up from one, then two, then three years), so they can get more complacent in the middle of a term. But we have to live with that, too. And of course, if you’re that opposed to the way they do things, you can run for office yourself — another feature of democracy.

  10. Hmm..
    Force Larry O’Brien and André Cornellier to walk with the people who are literally stuck with no car/carpool to and from work/doc appointments/grocery store runs.

    That or I’m thinking some sort of ‘Saw’ type scenario where they have devices attached to their bodies and have a certain amount of time to come to a resolution to the strike before said devices kill them. 😉 Mwahahah.

  11. Well XUP, why wouldn’t Quebec City have a transit system? For god’s sake Moncton and Kingston both have one. (Quebec City is in fact bigger than Halifax. Just FYI.)

    Yes, I’m tired of sitting in traffic. But honestly, I agree with Bob. At some point, they will end up with binding arbitration — I do know that if this were Toronto they would have been legislated back to work long ago. Legislation is what it’s going to take.

    Now, it might, just might significantly alter the dynamic if the junior drivers and mechanics were to organize themselves as a group — or start crossing the picket lines. Even then… it wouldn’t guarantee a settlemet.

  12. see this is what i have said.. they drive in their cushy vehicles and do their thing. they arent walking like me. dealing with cold, heel spurs, shin splints.

    they could have done this differently. like, for example, not accepted fairs until an agreement is met. that would have gotten the city’s attention because lets face it, when the money isnt there, they are pissed.

    i am down with Mavens ball kicking game.

    it would also be nice if they actually got at this daily. unlike what they have been doing, one day here, another day a week from then.

    ARGH! im so goddamn grumpy about this whole thing.

  13. Woodsy – So you’re suggesting deep-frying the balls before the competition begins?

    Milan – I see. Woodsy is not only a shameless plugger of her own blog, but also a plagiarist! Shocking!

    Bob – Stop being so level-headed! Yes, it’s nice that they are able to continue on with their lives and business as usual while a whole bunch of Ottawans’ lives are on hold. I realize that to a lot of people this transit thing is just a minor, back-burner issue, but as you pointed out on my last post on this topic, there are people in this city who are really suffering because they have no transportation. I sure as hell hope every one of these councilors is voted out of office. Most of them have been there forever, I understand- because no one can be bothered voting for someone new.

    Hannah – How fiendishly clever.

    Nat – Are YOU getting level-headed, too? Sheesh. There’s not going to be any back to work legislation. The feds have made that perfectly clear. And, yes, I know sooner or later something will probably happen and it’s all going to end in a sad pathetic fizzle and then there will be a lot of chaos for a while until everything is back up and running and then we’ll forget all about it in time for the next municipal election.

    Jobthingy – It’s been pretty clear since long before the transit strike that nobody gives a rat’s ass about transit users. The whole system is a drain on the municipal coffers. The money it brings in is negligible compared to what the system costs. That’s’ why many taxpayers have been complaining for years that they’re subsidizing something that only a pathetic few use. So, it’s not surprising that no one is in any big hurry to end it

  14. I am so ashamed. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before and I don’t know why the rest of you didn’t think of it either.
    Send a nice letter to Obama about the problem and then Stevie will fix it. Why? Because Stevie wants nothing so much as to suck up to anything American and because Obama cares about each and every one of us.
    It can go on his resume as his first peace keeping initiative.

  15. This is just the absolute best part of a “democracy”… you vote people in who then proceed to ignore you for four years. I feel like my hands are tied… my MP is a total loser; I’ve written so many letters to him over the years and he has yet to answer/acknowledge one… that’s a wasted effort.

    I am (still) filled with fury because we are collectively HELPLESS and at the mercy of people who aren’t affected by their own actions… or lack thereof.

    Sorry. Not helpful, I know. However, physical violence and civil insurrection are increasingly the only things on my mind as this strike drags on.

  16. Call Jack Bauer. He’ll know what to do.
    Yesiree-bob HE’LL know what to do….
    «maniacal giggle»

  17. XUP says: “The whole system is a drain on the municipal coffers. The money it brings in is negligible compared to what the system costs. That’s’ why many taxpayers have been complaining for years that they’re subsidizing something that only a pathetic few use. So, it’s not surprising that no one is in any big hurry to end it.”

    I’ll bet a lot of people have changed their opinion of transit over the past 45 days, and see how vital it is to a city the size and configuration (geographically) of Ottawa.

    Besides, this is not a perfect world, and not every municipal service is a money-maker or even a break-even proposition. Have you ever considered how much money is spent on recreation facilities? Trust me, they are not revenue-neutral.

    Susan says: “I feel like my hands are tied… my MP is a total loser; I’ve written so many letters to him over the years and he has yet to answer/acknowledge one… that’s a wasted effort.”

    Choose your battles wisely. Habitual letter writers and complainers are easily spotted and labelled as such. So your credibility soon evaporates, and your missives are automatically sent to File 13.

  18. Woodsy is a shameless plugger of her own blog, BUT she came up with the idea of denying those who are involved in the negotiations their vehicles on her own… I am sure Milan is familiar with the concept of parallel evolution… parallel thinking…

  19. Bandobras – I may be wrong, but I think if Harper is going to ask favours, the transit strike is going to be way, way, way, way (to infinity) down on his list.

    Susan- Exactly how many of us feel, except that violence is only going to get us into trouble. Civil insurrection, on the other hand…

    Trashee – Someone told me you had the Jack Bauer equivalent of Commissioner Gordon’s batphone at your place, so could you make the call? Please?

    Geewits – Can we do that? People are already asking for the portion of their taxes back that were supposed to pay for public transit the last couple of months.

    Bob – I was being facetious with that statement. I think some people’s opinions might definitely have changed about the value of public transit — just not the people in charge, unfortunately. As for your comment to Susan – what recourse do citizens have when their elected officials aren’t doing their job? We always seem to be of the opinion that once they’re elected we have no choice but to put up with them until the next election. Same thing came up during the Harper/Coalition debate. “he was elected democratically, so now we have to leave him alone.” Not true. I see nothing wrong with writing letters, calling your elected officials, prodding them to keep their promises. And ya, if you write every day chances are none of your issues will look all that important to them; but I’ve only ever written once and my councillor totally ignored that letter, too. Susan is right. We’re screwed. These guys are so complacent because they keep getting re-elected and are confident they’ll get re-elected next time, too.

    Woodsy – Don’t worry. Everyone who knows you knows you would never plagiarize. I’m pretty sure you’d sooner give away your very best idea ever than steal even a mediocre idea from someone else. Anyway, this denying car idea is obviously brilliant since both of you thought of it. And, it’s actually workable. The citizens of Ottawa collectively need to ask everyone involved, as a show of good faith and solidarity, to give up their cars until an agreement is reached. They can beg rides from others, hire cabs on their own dime and without any special treatment just because of who they are; they can walk or bike or work from home. How can we present this?

  20. Bob- So you think that it’s acceptable for the MP that the majority voted in to set his municipality to “mute”? That it’s a-okay for him to only reply to or address the letters that are politically convenient to his personal agenda?

    “So many” in my case is three letters over two years over issues that I feel are important. It’s three too many, in my humble opinion, because, as stated earlier, I may as well throw them into the fireplace for all the good they do. I hardly think this puts me in the “overbearing whiner” category.

    He had the temerity to come to my door during the last election and ask for my vote. I asked him what he did with my letters and why he didn’t respond. He poked at his Blackberry and said he’d get back to me. He hasn’t. (More the fool I, I wrote him again since.)

    The only consolation I take from this is that *I* didn’t vote him in.

  21. Ottawa residents are indeed very compliant and obedient… as a native Montrealer (therefore not very patient!), I would call for mutiny!!!

    What about every single soul in Ottawa calls in sick on a pre-determined day? Since most workers here are civil servants (federal, provincial or municipal), maybe… and I say “maybe” our so-called leaders “mettraient enfin leurs culottes”!!!

    I still can’t believe how patient and “sooooo nice” people are here… I even saw a couple of individuals walking on the 417 between two exit ramps? Does it make sense to you? Duh!!!

    Wake up dudes!!!

  22. Hire any one of 70,000 Ontarians who have lost their jobs.

    Driving a bus is unskilled labour after all

  23. Hi XUP … I don’t know what the answer is, but I read through the comments in the post by the citizen of the woman walking 12 hours a day to and from work, and one of them recommended the following:

    January 23, 2009 – 5:19 PM

    This story brought tears to my eyes and anger at the incompetence of our city and transit workers. It should not have happened. Firstly, I would recommend we form a citizens group and hold a media conference to denounce our leadership. Secondly, I recommend we remove city council any legal way possible, especially our leads on the transportation committee. If I were on that committee I would not rest one night until it was resolved. You should hear how business leaders are commenting on the competency of the council. Thirdly, I recommend we gather philathropic individuals and start a private transportation company. I’m in. link

    I think the first idea is key — the public needs a voice in this. A collective voice, not the bits and pieces we hear on reports. One voice, one very, very loud voice. A demanding voice. All we hear from are the city and the union, while it’s the people of Ottawa who are struggling.

  24. Susan – You give him hell. I already have on your behalf, but he can take it coming double-barrelled.

    Lynedesroberts – HA! I wonder if we could organize something like that?It’s very difficult to organize public servants, you know. And then I wonder if anyone would care? We’d just inconvenience the general public even more. I can’t believe people were walking on the exit ramps. I’ve heard guys in suits with laptops standing by the side of the 417 with signs saying where they want to go and how much they have to contribute. It’s really all very pathetic. Basically, I think we’re all too exhausted trying to conduct our lives in this mess to get up the energy to make much of a fuss. Thanks for visiting the blog and leaving a comment!

    Elliotross – You’re certainly not the first one to suggest this. First we’d have to shut down the union and get rid of the current OC employees and that would include the admin and maintenance staff — and most of them ARE skilled. Then we’d have to spend 6+ weeks training drivers. I’m sure there would be plenty willing to take the job — especially at whatever astronomical salary is being quoted in the press these days.

    Olivia – I just heard about this woman today. I can’t figure out how this is possible. Walking 12 hours, working 8?? That only leaves 4 hours to sleep. Why wouldn’t she just stay at the store and have a snooze? A citizen’s group is exactly what we need. We’re the ones most affected and the only ones not organized. We need a unified voice. And the city council definitely has to go. If not now, then for sure at the next election. Thank you so much for visiting the blog and leaving this interesting comment.

  25. The call has been made. I expect results immediately.
    Jack has informed me that each and every member of Council and the exec of the ATU will recieve a pizza at 2 am tomorrow monring!
    Take THAT – a**holes!
    Man, I am so TIRED of talking/blogging/bitching about this crap – aren’t you?

  26. I remember when Halifax had a transit strike back in the late 90’s. They ended up loosing a lot of money from it because people got used to walking and liked it!

    Sorry, no ideas. Didn’t even know it was going on in my little bubble down here. I am now going to tell my husband that I do learn about worldly events from blogs!!

  27. I never thought I’d ever be happy that I was unemployed. I remember having to walk an hour each way to/from work last time and that was bad enough.

    We ARE too compacent and accommodating. “Oh, gosh, looks like the strike will go on for a long time so we’d better just hunker down and get on with things.” It seems like we’ve already given up hope, and that makes me angry. I second (third?) the wish for Jack Bauer — there’s a man who knows how to get stuff done.

    Passive actions like petitions, letter-writing, and peaceful demonstrations or protest marches will really go nowhere. They’re easily deflected or ignored. Something aggressive needs to be done. I like the civil insurrection idea (Hmm, civil insurrection flash mobs?) A riot might seem excessive, but maybe we need something that intense to demonstrate just how we as citizens really feel about this situation.

    On a less, um, violent front, I like the idea of sequestering or a committee providing a united, common voice for the residents of the city, too. (Hey, at the least, it could help us stage the mutiny better. LOL) I have no idea how you would start something like that or even if it would be in the slightest way effective, but I’d be behind it all the way.

  28. Trashee – Thanks! And yes, I am sick and tired of this in all respects. Especially when I see the big headlines this morning “Talks Skid to a Halt”: All talks between city officials and the striking transit union are off.

    Helen – I moved to Halifax in 1998, I guess it must have been just before I got there because this is the first transit strike I’ve ever been involved in and I’ve lived in cities with transit my whole adult life.

    Louise – You’re so right. Somebody needs to take the lead. I believe there are facebook groups trying to organize something, but I haven’t been able to find them. I’ll keep looking and let you know when I do.

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  30. I agree with Louise – it’s at least partially due to us being too complacent. A city full of civil servants must have a lot of repressed anger/energy that could be directed at somehow getting our voices heard. I’m not one to condone or instigate violence, but obviously what we’ve been doing thus far hasn’t worked.

  31. Em – Well, something between violence, which will just land us all in the hoosegow and sitting around with our thumbs up our heinies. Maybe we could form a citizen’s group who would act as arbitrators, make the decision and have done with it. No one else seems willing to do it.

    Mayor Larry – (if this is really you). What do you mean “great ideas”? Did you actually read any of these ideas? Some of them involve kicking you repeatedly in the groin. I can’t believe you’d be on board with that. I would, however, challenge you and your fellow councillorsto go for the car-free option, as I mentioned on your blog. Or, failing that, perhaps you’d be open to the idea of sequestering reps from both sides of the table in a locked room until they come to an agreement. Or if that doesn’t appeal, I’d be more than happy to come in, listen to both sides for 15 minutes each and make a decision. Please tell me you’re willing to try something completely outside the box?

  32. Woodsy – Excellent. The oatmeal will warm him up and the scotch will make him pliant. Let me know when and where and I’ll ask him to pick me up on the way

  33. XUP – that’s the old part of the city, the tourist part. Basically the rest of the city is suburbs. Suburbs that extend forever. *Shudder*

  34. Jazz- Ah, like Ottawa – one desolate suburb after another.

    X – Yes, the shoes make all the difference; especially in the winter when your choices are big, clunky boots that are warm and almost impossible to walk in very far or comfortable walking shoes that freeze your feet instantly

  35. geesh! i have no ideas, but i will put it in the pot and “ponder” it a spell.

    i wish it were over so you could get back to your cool environment friendly schedule.