Should transit be an "essential service"?

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Michelle
Should transit be an "essential service"?
LemonThriller

I think she has a point. Transit strikes have enormous health/safety effects on the most marginalized.

Wealthier people often have the resources to travel or live in the urban centre where they can easily cab/ride a bike/walk to work.

There are other strategies that could be considered, such as reduced service and the like - but when you're struggling to get by every month and suddenly you can't get to work, well, then it becomes a trickier circumstance.

Unionist

LemonThriller wrote:

I think she has a point. Transit strikes have enormous health/safety effects on the most marginalized.

Wealthier people often have the resources to travel or live in the urban centre where they can easily cab/ride a bike/walk to work.

Obviously, the playing field has to be levelled here between rich and poor.

Here's an idea:

1. When a transit strike begins, government may call a halt on the grounds that it's "essential".

2. Until a new agreement is reached, all buses/subways/etc. must operate.

3. During the same period, municipal residents are banned from using private vehicles to travel to work. They must walk, bike, or use public transit.

4.  Besides the savings to the environment and levelling the playing field between rich and poor, this move will create windfall revenues for public transit.

5. The revenues can be reinvested in helping to meet the (ex-)strikers' demands.

6. Benefits: Cleaner air; continuous transit service; drivers stay on the job and lose no wages; more public funds generated.

7. Disadvantages: None, zero, nada, forget it.

Sounds like a plan. Thanks, LemonThriller, for inspiring this alternative to messy and disruptive work stoppages.

As for the rabble "columnist", she should go on strike asap. No essential services will suffer.

 

LemonThriller

Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today it seems.

I really like your alternative plan though unionist - seems very appropriate :)

Seriously though, I think your ideologically rigid stance on the right-to-strike is naive and ultimately ends up hurting the labour movement. To ignore the public relations angle of the strategy of the strike is unwise. Take a look at the last Toronto transit strike for instance, which began without notice at midnight on a Saturday night, when hundreds of thousands of people were out.

I remember having to walk 2 hours home in the rain at 2:00 a.m. that night, which lucky for me was doable since I'm rather young and physically able. But what really pissed me off was seeing an elderly man trying to get home that night carrying big bags which was clearly very difficult for him.

How is the public supposed to understand the health/safety/wage concerns of public transit workers when it seems they don't care about the public's?

Many - yes very many - transit workers felt their leadership went too far with that move.

I understand and support the right to strike - but I think there are strategic concerns that are important to consider.

Unionist

Don't get me wrong. Many strikes are stupid, short-sighted, destructive, self-destructive, pointless, easily avoidable by a little patience and reflection,... I could go on.

But the same is true of religious beliefs. Or things people say out loud in public. Or letting dangerous criminals go free because the Crown or police screw up the prosecution. Or letting Stephen Harper rule Canada even though most Canadians don't want him to.

The question isn't whether the strike is smart or democratic or makes sense or even if it inconveniences others. The question is, when do you take away people's rights to do stupid things - in this case, the right to strike?

The answer given by the law of Canada, and it corresponds to the answer given by the ILO (a tripartite U.N. body of governments, business, and labour), is that you never take that right away unless the strike causes "an immediate and serious danger to the health or safety of the public".

You want to change that balance to something like: "If some poor people are inconvenienced and it's much harder for them to get to work, then the workers who provide their transportation should be forced to work on pain of fines or imprisonment, whether they agree with their terms of employment or not." Yes? Ok, lobby for that. Just be careful what you ask for.

Quote:
How is the public supposed to understand the health/safety/wage concerns of public transit workers when it seems they don't care about the public's?

The drivers have no way to protest effectively without stopping driving. This means, according to you, that they don't care about the public. I have little time for people that blame the workers, rather than those who own and manage the service. Are you sure you're in the right forum?

LemonThriller

You're right unionist.

The Toronto transit strike was done more by the union much to the chagrin of many of its members. I'm getting different topics mixed up anyway vis-a-vis 'right-to-strike' and 'strike-strategy.'

I don't think there should be a law passed revoking their right-to-strike. 

From a strategic point-of-view though, it becomes harder to defend if the strategy behind strikes suck.

Jabberwock

Out here in BC the Liberals have made schools an essential service. I find this trend abhorrent- it is clearly an attempt to subvert the bargaining rights of the public sector, which includes the right to strike. Every time a public sector union chooses to strike, the media comes out guns blazing, complaining that the teachers/garbage removers/bus drivers don't care about the public. In my experience no union votes to strike without serious consideration of the consequences, to themselves as well as to the public. Strike pay is not fun. Disrupted services are not fun. 

However, I find it infuriating that all the blame in these situations is invariably placed on the striking workers, and very little on the management who refuse to bargain in good faith for ideological reasons, while spending thousands on  PR to paint the workers as uncaring, selfish, and greedy. I have seen this happen in BC over the years with teachers, transit, city workers, and even when Nurses enacted an overtime ban. 

Now, I use transit daily, and I use the education system daily, and it is a real hardship to lose these services. But that does not mean they are essential services. Essential services are those in which life will be lost due to an interruption in service, not those in which the economy is impacted because people have to stay home with their kids or work from home, or take some time off, or arrange some carpooling. Believe me, I am sympathetic, but I do not believe that even serious hardship should supersede that right to job action. 

 

ikat381

My buddy's a paramedic and he says the advantage to being an essential service is that arbitrators tend to award better compensation packages in your agreements. I didn't get any more details, but this statement might have something to do with why the CD Howe institute found that essential services workers are more expensive (http://www.rabble.ca/news/essential-services-legislation-unnecessary-and...).

Maybe someone here has more info...

 

Michelle

Actually, that was Adam Giambrone's argument against making TTC workers "essential" - because arbitrated contracts tend to be more lucrative for the workers.

I am against declaring transit workers "essential", but I am sympathetic to the arguments put forth in favour of it.  My problem with those arguments, however, is that the transit workers are all supposed to be so concerned about the public and curtail their right to strike because of it - meanwhile, much of that same public they're supposed to be worried so much about couldn't give two shits for transit workers, and they let themselves get whipped up by the media, the politicians, and TTC management into believing that transit workers are a bunch of spoiled, good-for-nothing, overpaid public leeches.

Why, again, are transit workers supposed to give a shit about a public that doesn't give a shit about them?  Why is it always that public service workers are supposed to be so selfless and give away all their rights in service of a public that is so contemptuous of public servants and can be counted on to mostly take the side of management during labour disputes? 

Doug

I think it would be great if the TTC anf the ATU negotiated an essential service agreement to keep a certain level of service going during a strike. That would be the smart way to go.

Fidel

I think that if this was a labour or NDP government, or an all labour city council, msm newsies and rightwing politicos would remind Ottawa regional voters of it constantly and for years to come.

newbold

Making it an essential service will demand an emphasis for public and eventually mass transit for all Canadians.

 It's only right .

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=Another">http://rabble.ca/news/essential-services-legislation-unnecessary-and-ine... rabble column[/url] knocks the stuffing out of that moronic position.

Michelle

Thanks for posting that, M. Spector.  I knew that article was coming and meant to post it to this thread as soon as it was up, but I forgot to look for it yesterday!

I agree with you - it's excellent.

Unionist

Great article. But it's still a bit sad that in the Labour and Consumption forum, we have to argue in favour of workers' fundamental rights when those who benefit from workers' labour are inconvenienced:

newbold wrote:

Making it an essential service will demand an emphasis for public and eventually mass transit for all Canadians.

 It's only right .

... wing.

 

Michelle

It is.  But clearly these are discussions that need to be had, because the question of workers' rights when they affect the public (particularly when it affects the poorest the most) is one that is still obviously not resolved by people on the left - otherwise we wouldn't have the ONDP legislating the TTC back to work, etc. 

That's what babble is for, right?  To discuss and debate these issues?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Michelle wrote:

...the question of workers' rights when they affect the public (particularly when it affects the poorest the most) is one that is still obviously not resolved by people on the left...

"People on the left" - does that include 'newbold'? Because I've yet to see any evidence of that.

ikat381

Does the Canadian labour code apply to city transit workers?

Unionist

ikat381 wrote:
Does the Canadian labour code apply to city transit workers?

No - with rare exceptions like OC Transpo, which crosses a provincial boundary. Almost all others (like the TTC) come under provincial codes, some of which contain "essential services" provisions which are much broader than the federal code.

Jabberwock

Unless it is a "national" industry, such as telecom or rail, I believe the provincial labour code would supersede the CLC.

Jabberwock

Sorry, simulposting... did not mean to repeat unionists comment. 

Unionist

Yeah, what TM said. I'm seriously disappointed by Michelle setting workers' fundamental rights against the rights of the "poorest", which is a ploy anti-union politicians have frequently used. The rights of the "poorest" are infringed upon daily by the wealthy and powerful that run this country, these provinces, and cities - and the whole economy - not by workers fighting for their rights. We are allies, and when the ruling class sets one against the other, our job is to oppose that "divide and rule" strategy.

The more I review it, the more I am shocked at Ashifa Kassam's article. She apparently is a very widely published journalist, from her bio. Why do we need to give her anti-worker screed a platform on rabble?

Time for a letter to the editor, methinks.

 

triciamarie

I have a hard time reconciling this --

Quote:
clearly these are discussions that need to be had, because the question of workers' rights when they affect the public (particularly when it affects the poorest the most) is one that is still obviously not resolved by people on the left - otherwise we wouldn't have the ONDP legislating the TTC back to work, etc. That's what babble is for, right? To discuss and debate these issues?

with this:

Quote:
In defining itself as "progressive," rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist and pro-labour stance. Discussion which develops and expands progressive thought is encouraged and welcome. babble is NOT intended as a place where the basic and essential values of human rights, feminism, anti-racism, and labour rights are to be debated or refought.

The right to say "no, I'm not going to do that work on those conditions" is a fundamental part of freedom and democracy. In the terms of babble policy, it is a "basic and essential value... of labour rights".

We may wish that the ONDP would have better regard for human rights but that should not take away from babble's commitment to maintaining that standard.

keglerdave

Just some thoughts on this overall thing.

1. The HEU in BC won a supreme court ruling a year or so ago, that essentially stated that the right to collective bargaining was a charter right. As well as to join a union etc. And one could extend that further to the right to strike, and hopefully, the right to honour a picket line. (currently being appealed to the SCC).

2. The Ottawa transit dispute from out here, looked like it fell squarely on the shoulders of the Mayor and Council of Ottawa. And shocking as well was the blatant political interference to force the Union to put the insufficient offer of the employer to the membership. When you collectively bargain, your committee has mandates set by the rank and file. Clearly the employer's final offer didn't meet the mandates given to the bargaining committee by the membership. As happens in bargaining the committee had the right to reject the offer without a vote. For the labour minister to step in and order a vote was ridiculous.

3. Prior to the dispute, the parties could have sat down and worked out essential service guidelines. But once again the Mayor and Council opted to play chicken with the union and lost. 

4. Michelle, last I looked in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there isn't a charter right to Public Transit. We in BC had a transit dispute that lasted close to 6 months a couple years ago.  Granted it was over the spring and summer, but still.

5. The union applied maximum pressure in its tactics, by striking during winter time, which is their right, because their employer decided to start a war with the union, and make the public pay for it.  And yet its the union that should be punished by making transit an "essential service." Hell wanna blame someone, take it out on Mayor Dickhead, his council and Rona Ambrose, and John Baird as well. (Note political interference).

6. In BC's transit strike, people made do. They car pooled, they did what they had to do to get around.  And like I said, it was over 5 to 6 months, not a few weeks. Is Ottawa a bubble zone exempt from that kind of logic. The people standing outside freezing, should have been exerting pressure on the city to settle. Instead, the dispute has gone to binding arbitration. 

7. Of course people were affected by the strike. That's the entire crux behind withdrawing your services.

Serving the public is a thankless job. They only realize the importance of various jobs when those people aren't around to look after them. Otherwise they're taken for granted. If I were the ATU, I would turn this into a civic election issue and throw the bastards out. A harper clone as Mayor of Ottawa had to run and hide behind the skirt of the Federal Labour Minister, and got his offer shoved up his ass by the workers. It actually I think prolonged the dispute.

But my final statement on this, comes from the aspect of expecting the CIRB to come and handle the dispute effectively. Maybe they learned from how the Telus dispute was handled, one can only hope they don't make the same mistakes, intentional or not, in the OC Transpo dispute.

 

Michelle

I agree with you on this issue, Unionist and triciamarie.  I just don't think the rest of the left is "there yet" on this particular one, and that's why I think it's a discussion worth having.  Part of the mandate of this forum (at least in my mind) is to educate too, right? 

Unionist

I don't think workers' right to strike is up for debate among the "left", Michelle, and I have no taste for "educating" allegedly progressive people that busdrivers shouldn't be forced to drive buses on pain of fines or imprisonment. So I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

Fidel

Michelle wrote:

It is.  But clearly these are discussions that need to be had, because the question of workers' rights when they affect the public (particularly when it affects the poorest the most) is one that is still obviously not resolved by people on the left - otherwise we wouldn't have the ONDP legislating the TTC back to work, etc. 

That's what babble is for, right?  To discuss and debate these issues?

Uh, I was under the impression there is a Liberal gov in Toronto today. You know, that party of Pinocchios with 22% of the registered vote, 66% of legislature seats, and wielding 100% of power. I'm not sayin' we live under a dictatorship or anything, but I sometimes wonder.

saga saga's picture

I feel the right to strike is essential.

However, I wouldn't oppose the possibility of an essential services contract to keep a couple of main lines operating - eg, occasional service on subways. 

 

 

 

Sven Sven's picture

Jabberwock wrote:

Now,...it is a real hardship to lose these services. But that does not mean they are essential services. Essential services are those in which life will be lost due to an interruption in service, not those in which the economy is impacted because people have to stay home with their kids or work from home, or take some time off, or arrange some carpooling

I agree.  If transit workers want to strike, they should be free to do so.

The bus drivers when on strike a year or so ago here in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota).  The result?  A number of people who depended on the buses were severely inconvenienced, the highways and freeways were blissfully smooth sailing (because there were no buses clogging up the roads), and the strike ended after a couple of weeks...with the drivers basically taking what the Metropolitan Transit Commission was offering in the first place.

So, yeah, I don't think transit services should be classified as "essential services".

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Sven Sven's picture

Two year ago or so, several state employee unions went on strike (resulting in the striking of most state government employees).  The traffic on those days was great (as I work in St. Paul, the state's capital).  The whole thing pretty much petered out after several days.  Apparently, few really missed the services.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Michelle

Unionist wrote:
I don't think workers' right to strike is up for debate among the "left", Michelle, and I have no taste for "educating" allegedly progressive people that busdrivers shouldn't be forced to drive buses on pain of fines or imprisonment. So I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

Hey Unionist, the only thing we disagree about is whether it should be up for discussion, because I completely agree with you about where the left SHOULD be at on this issue.  Places like babble should be where people on the left who are experiencing confusion or cognitive dissonance on this issue should be able to see rebuttals to such anti-labour positions, especially when those positions are widespread among otherwise progressive people.

Unionist

saga wrote:

I feel the right to strike is essential.

However, I wouldn't oppose the possibility of an essential services contract to keep a couple of main lines operating - eg, occasional service on subways.

What does "contract" mean?

Contracts are generally consensual. No one could argue with a consensual agreement to provide services. That's what all workers do probably 98% of their working lives, when they're not on some occasional strike.

Or do you mean an "imposed" contract, whereby drivers provide those services, or they are fined or imprisoned (which is the usual penalty in such legislation)?

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

Places like babble should be where people on the left who are experiencing confusion or cognitive dissonance on this issue should be able to see rebuttals to such anti-labour positions, especially when those positions are widespread among otherwise progressive people.

I have trouble when such discussions are kick-started by backward anti-worker articles like that of Ashifa Kassam. Is she what you mean by "otherwise progressive people"? I have rarely seen such a disturbing piece on rabble, and to my shame I haven't even got around to writing a letter yet. Who would have selected this article for publication, or do I just fill out this [url=http://rabble.ca/contact]vanilla contact form[/url]?

 

Michelle

The vanilla contact form is fine.  I believe she's a columnist, though, so we don't "select articles" from columnists.

But yes, that IS what I mean by "otherwise progressive people".  Unless, of course, you believe that you have to be perfect on every issue in order to be considered "progressive".  

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

Unless, of course, you believe that you have to be perfect on every issue in order to be considered "progressive".  

I've never heard of Ashifa Kassam, so I'll have to take your word that she is progressive on some issue or other (I guess that's what you're saying).

As for being progressive on "every issue", what does that mean? A worker I know who is a strong union militant doesn't think women should work in the plant, supports the Afghan "mission", and doesn't think people who immigrate here should wear their traditional garb (he's afraid to tell me he means hijabs etc.).

Is he "progressive"? He is good at fighting for his own interests, but weak when it comes to recognizing the needs and oppression and struggles of others. I will spend lots of time arguing and persuading and discussing with a worker like that; uniting with him in the daily battles that come up; and I may even invite him to read some babble threads. But I won't invite him to post here on women or Afghanistan or racism.

So what you're missing about Kassam, Michelle, is that she may be a wonderful, kind, caring, enlightened person on all kinds of issues. Rabble should invite her to write (if at all) on those issues. Not the ones where her thinking is still on the side of the Chamber of Commerce.

Slumberjack

Declaring public workers as essential might gain more popular appeal among the masses than what already exists, if discussion is not permitted.  Facilitating discussion on Babble in our context serves to debunk the anti-labour tendencies among corporate and government entities.  If one side of the debate gets to swing the plight of the poor and elderly as some sort of weapon with which to subdue the rights of public sector workers, without the other side and it's allies being able to respond, then the workers are left on their own to fight oppression in their workplaces.  If the article in the OP was put forward as an example of anti-labour views that have permeated the minds of the public, then it serves a useful exercise to generate discussion with the aim of tearing it down.  I believe it is applicable both here and in the mainstream. 

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

Declaring public workers as essential might gain more popular appeal among the masses than what already exists, if discussion is not permitted. Facilitating discussion on Babble in our context serves to debunk the anti-labour tendencies among corporate and government entities.

Not in this forum. We can discuss how to debunk anti-labour tendencies. But why would we entertain those anti-labour views here, any more than we entertain anti-woman or homophobic or racist views?

I'll tell you why (I love answering my own questions). Because being anti-workers' rights is not seen by some as being "as bad" as being racist or misogynist or homophobic. 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

And a good teaching tool for how the right tries to strip Labour rights by claiming to be concerned for the poor and elderly.

triciamarie

So Michelle, are we re-opening the babble policy framework with respect to the other issues debated on babble? Let's say I put up an inflammatory, sexist OP in the feminism forum that goads angry responses about women's basic rights. Is that ok, as long as it also educates the rest of the left?

Or would this proposed exception apply only for the labour forum?

Jabberwock

And it is an unavoidable fact that the interruption of any public sector service is nearly always more likely to impact the poor more severely than the ruling class.  That is why we need a public sector, and why we need to protect its workers' rights. 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Not in this forum. We can discuss how to debunk anti-labour tendencies. But why would we entertain those anti-labour views here, any more than we entertain anti-woman or homophobic or racist views?  I'll tell you why (I love answering my own questions). Because being anti-workers' rights is not seen by some as being "as bad" as being racist or misogynist or homophobic.

I believe it is wrong to make these comparisons, they are unrelated, just as I'd like to believe that you understand why.  I recall just the other day, in another thread that you initiated, where you put forward a rather extreme point of view at face value, to do with sentencing.  Somewhere down thread, you explained your reasoning for originating the topic, saying that you wanted to generate discussion and debate.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Dscussion and debate is good from a Pro-Labour POV.  Like will making them or part of their contract an essential service be Pro-Worker.  Not blanket statements like yes they should be as newbold made.

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

I believe it is wrong to make these comparisons, they are unrelated, just as I'd like to believe that you understand why. 

I don't understand why - on a progressive discussion board - it is more acceptable to question workers' rights not to be treated like slaves, than to question freedom of religion. I think these comparisons are extremely apt. To say they are not comparable is troubling.

Quote:
I recall just the other day, in another thread that you initiated, where you put forward a rather extreme point of view at face value, to do with sentencing.  Somewhere down thread, you explained your reasoning for originating the topic, saying that you wanted to generate discussion and debate.

I said that if we legalize polygamy, and it is proven that a man coerced or intimidated women into such a marriage, they should face life imprisonment. Yes, it was an extreme position designed to provoke discussion. But it was a PROGRESSIVE position. When someone opens a thread saying: "I think public transit should be declared essential and the right to strike should be abolished" - that also provokes discussion. But it is an ANTI-PROGRESSIVE ANTI-WORKER position.

I hope you will understand the difference. The trouble is, it occurs to me, reading this thread, and reading that Kassam passive-aggressive diatribe, that there are people here who have no clue why depriving busdrivers of the right to strike would be a bad thing. So, they would like to establish a "hierarchy" of rights in that regard.

Let them do so in a different forum. This forum is about how we can support workers' struggles. At least, so I always thought, until today.

triciamarie

Slumberjack wrote:

Unionist wrote:
Not in this forum. We can discuss how to debunk anti-labour tendencies. But why would we entertain those anti-labour views here, any more than we entertain anti-woman or homophobic or racist views?  I'll tell you why (I love answering my own questions). Because being anti-workers' rights is not seen by some as being "as bad" as being racist or misogynist or homophobic.

I believe it is wrong to make these comparisons, they are unrelated, just as I'd like to believe that you understand why. 

Well I sure don't. Why is it wrong to make these comparisons? And how are they unrelated?

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
I said that if we legalize polygamy, and it is proven that a man coerced or intimidated women into such a marriage, they should face life imprisonment. Yes, it was an extreme position designed to provoke discussion. But it was a PROGRESSIVE position.

Since when does a statement supporting the establishment of draconian punishments become a 'progressive' position, when used as a ways and means to defend the rights of others?  I know, you explained in so many words later on, that you wanted this position torn down as part of the discourse. 

I don't happen to agree at all with the OP article, as I see draconian anti-labour opinions being offered up as the ways and means to protect the poor and disadvantaged.  I too am surprised that it was presented as legitimate opinion on Rabble.  It would of been preferable to have it presented as a sentiment among the public, where management uses the poor and disadvantaged for it's own benefit, and then the debate can be appropriately focused on countering it.  Quite often though, we don't get to choose the manner through which anti-labour opinions are presented, but it does have some constructive value when dissenting views are correctly put forward.

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

Since when does a statement supporting the establishment of draconian punishments become a 'progressive' position, when used as a ways and means to defend the rights of others? 

What penalty would you say is more appropriate for coercing and intimidating a woman into a marriage relationship? I set out an extreme view, but how is it different from rape? If not life imprisonment, what?

Quote:
I know, you explained in so many words later on, that you wanted this position torn down as part of the discourse.

No I didn't. The position was correct. The specific penalty is up for discussion. What I wanted to provoke was an understanding of some possible consequences of legalizing polygamy.

Had I started the discussion with, "Yeah, let's legalize polygamy, because I think there are more women than men on earth, and men have very demanding sexual appetites" - that would have been a proper comparator with opening a labour thread by saying workers' rights should be abolished.

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
What penalty would you say is more appropriate for coercing and intimidating a woman into a marriage relationship? I set out an extreme view, but how is it different from rape? If not life imprisonment, what? .....The position was correct. The specific penalty is up for discussion. What I wanted to provoke was an understanding of some possible consequences of legalizing polygamy.

I understood your initial statement in that thread, until you elaborated further, to be your own opinion of what you would like to see.  I offered that the existing penalties, if applied unsparingly across the board, would be sufficient to punish and deter.  My opinion is that the desire to impose the maximum allowable punishment under our system breaks with the normal practice of imposing the minimum necessary sanction for the protection of the public. Punishments based on public opinion, in my mind, are 'un-progressive.'  Yet, the debate went forward, which is what you intended.  I also understand and accept your view that the article, as published on Babble, represents an attack on organized labour.  I would have liked to see those opinions being debated from the perspective of how these mistaken views exist in the public arena, as opposed to debating if the website supports those views by publishing them.  I see the reactions forum as the place to submit complaints about that.  Still though, anyone looking on with an interest in labour/management discussions would see what would appear on the surface to be a concern for the poor, which might initially bring some level of sympathy for those views, but then subsequently benefit from a thorough deconstruction of the underlying context in which the initial views were made.  Where else would you want to see this occur?

Unionist

You're right, Slumberjack, this is not the thread to discuss these meta-issues. There was actually a fair bit of good discussion in the early part, notwithstanding the anti-worker Rabble article and the anti-worker "Lemon Thriller" who thinks that defending workers' right to strike is "ideologically rigid".

Given the moderator's view that the right to strike is up for legitimate debate in this forum, I'm done with this thread.

remind remind's picture

 I agree with unionist 100%!

jas

I understand Unionist's point, especially as he outlines it in the meta-thread, but having lived through a Vancouver transit strike of similar length in 2001 I know firsthand how it can cripple people's mobility. That strike occurred in early spring. I don't know what I would have done, starting a new job at that time too, had it occurred in winter. 

I would argue that eliminating what for some people may be their only transportation option does indeed affect their health and safety. If you don't  know what I mean you obviously have never been transit-captive. I see that other essential services, like health care, do still seem to be able to exercise their bargaining rights. Why would this be different for transit? Perhaps a transit strike on an essential service basis would still be a strike, but services would be reduced to a skeletal schedule. This still hurts the people who depend on transit the most, but at least, with some planning and discomfort they can get to their job or, in the case of very homebound senior citizens, they can get out to get some shopping done.

For those who still don't like this idea, what options do you propose for the transit-captive during an all-out strike, and one that lasts more than a few days? 

 

jas

Does no one care to reply to my queries?

I don't think it's an effective pro-labour position to deny the plausibility of transit being an essential service while at the same time refusing to address the severe consequences to the transit-dependent of a lengthy stoppage of service. 

My genuine query is: how do other trades and professions that have been deemed essential services maintain their bargaining leverage, and why would this not work for transit workers? 

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