Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Letter to Driver

This letter was written as a reply to a driver who wrote after seeing a letter to the editor in the Kingston This Week. See: Access bus drivers in ‘one heck of a stalemate’: http://www.kingstonthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1598254 (I am withholding the name because the letter would be more appropriately addressed to all drivers).

I was glad to have an opportunity to dialogue and to answer some of the questions.

The letter in the Kingston This Week never said you weren't going to make any wage demands. I always knew you would. And, if you read it closely, you will see I very strongly used to support this fact.

The thing is, when you lose that much money with the school board contract, I can't see how it can continue to make sense. All I've got is the news to rely on. I have CKWS saying the wage demand was higher than what is customary practise for wage demands. Most non-unionized jobs give a 1% - 3% hike with promises of more in future, especially in a recession. I have no idea what was asked because that was never revealed. I can only assume by the reaction on the news that it is much higher than that. To ask for this after you just lost the school board contract is ludicrous. I would love to get more current numbers but I don't have them. However, when I wrote that letter, I was not putting a lot of stock in the numbers because I knew they were old.

What I know is the school board funds have always been the service's bread and butter. Why, I'll never know... likely because we have a hard headed city that is not interested in funding much service to the disabled. Their attitude is pretty bad. I also know the gas tax revenue from the province had strings on it so this meant the majority of it had to go to Kingston Transit, not to the Access Bus where it was vital that it be spent.

The school runs used to be deadly for us getting trips but in the last 2 years it has been better... not perfect, but better. This is because another one or two full time positions were added. It also helped that they added another evening run (although I know there were times when they didn't run it and should have). It was far from perfect, but it was a lot better than it was a few years ago.

As for the walking away from the table and not setting a new date - who do I believe? The news coverage of both sides said the other was not willing to go back to the table and the Access Bus web site (What's New) says a new date was set, but the union turned it down because management refused to accept your FINAL OFFER. What am I to believe? Believe me, I don't put a lot of stock in the media.

Instead, I have been digging up facts because of what you have said on the news. You said the city can stop the strike right now. Did you ever read the labour law and the rules for collective bargaining and the limits on outside interference? The truth is, the province is the only one who can do anything? They can deem the service essential and force you back to work or they can send in mediators and hope the two sides come to some sort of agreement. Most of the time, there will not be outside interference, so please don't deceive yourselves or the public into believing they will meddle. Also, if they deem you essential, the cost of providing the service will go up... And do you REALLY think our non-supportive mayor (for access) will push for something that will up the cost of providing the service? Listen to my blog and the sound clip from Tuesday's city council meeting if you don't believe me.

Now, to the final comment. What am I to say about a lunch room? Guess what? I say fair working conditions and safety is vital. But why not jump in your car and drive over to Division and Dalton to sit in a warm Tim Horton's, a Swiss Chalet, shop in the stores, go downtown and visit the library... who knows? I don't know of very many jobs where a lunch room is provided. However, I understand the reason for asking and I'm neither here nor there really. If you weren't on strike and leaving 3,600 passengers without medical treatment and the basic essentials of life, I would even bring up it up at the next AGM with the support of as passengers as I can get.

However, as I have said to anyone who asks, the drivers have a choice of comfort when they go home by driving somewhere on their breaks, etc. The passengers have NO CHOICE.

If you really care about the passengers, you would be coming back to work and asking your many passengers who support you drivers to lobby and push hard for better comfort and working conditions on the job.

Please STOP HURTING THE PASSENGERS.

Oh yeah, and by the way, other than a lot of painful, and very long rides on the city bus - and having to get off a lot of the time because of an allergy to perfume, I am NOT one of the ones who have missed very much. I live on the right bus route, I have a power chair, and I'm one heck of a determined individual; one who will NEVER give up.

Now, the ball is back in your court. Think of your personal comfort and your choice at the end of the day, then think about how you would feel if you could rarely, if ever get out for days and days on end ... today is DAY 50!!!! It is far too long.

Be sure to view my other blogs:
Accessibility: http://wheelchairdemon.blogspot.com
Access to Health Care: http://wheelchairdemon-health.blogspot.com

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