Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Where's Mike Harris when you need him?

What I like about the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) is that it treats the Toronto Transit Commission's employees as important even though they're not white collar professionals. In fact, they usually wear light blue shirts with burgundy jackets. Offering high pay, job security and moral support to people without MBAs makes our society better off, keeping jobs in that middle range between a quarter million dollars a year and minimum wage.

The problem is that the atu is also deranged, a fact that was true a few days ago when I started writing this post. Since I started writing, TTC chief manager Gary Webster wrote a memo to the 12,000 employees of the TTC telling them to at least try to earn their paycheque.

"I am becoming increasingly tired of defending the reputation of the TTC," Webster wrote, later explaining that he released the memo through the media to ensure that all TTC employees heard of it. A similar memo had been sent earlier but was disregarded by some who claimed ignorance.

So, in response to this and other perceived harrassment, TTC workers did the natural thing. They formed a Facebook group called Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment, public harrassment being our temerity to request that they not sleep on the job and treat us like human beings.

In response, TTC workers collected images of passengers behaving badly, which probably aren't hard to find considering that each bus or train has at most a handful of employees and a subway train at peak capacity can hold close to 2,000 people. But that's missing the point, because we pay to use the TTC. We are customers and they are workers, making any equivalency between us impossible.

TTC workers also threatened a possible work-to-rule in return for our harrassment, a truly fantastic turn of events. At least the good news is that after years of complaints about the rudeness of TTC workers, the issue is finally coming to a head. For my part, I can't remember the last time a fare collector took the time out of his busy schedule to even talk to me.


Riyaad said...

I was lined up to show my transfer behind a guy who was talking to the collector with iPhone in hand. We were at Osgoode station, and he was asking for directions to the Ikea in Etobicoke.

He was using his iPhone to display a city map, but I'm sure an audio recorder was running in the background. He spent a good five minutes attempting to frazzle the TTC employee, who decided that he was going to be unfrazzleable.

The final instruction given was to 'take the subway north from here, and transfer at St. George'. The questioner thanked the collector, headed downstairs and proceeded south.

Seadog said...

A large amount of people in this city are douchebags, so of course some of them end up being TTC employees. Maybe it's not their fault - they were raised to be douchebags by douchebag parents and they don't know any better. When there's a douchebag sitting next to me on the bus, yelling at unassuming passengers and crunching Nacho Cheese Doritos in my ear, I'm happy to just silently judge him/her and get on with my day.

But when that same douchebag puts on a TTC uniform, continues with the douchebaggery, and becomes enraged when I attempt to get the city service that I believe I'm paying for (reasonably efficient transportation from point A to point B without hostile treatment), I'm not as content to remain passive.

But I don't blame the douchebags - they can't help it. I blame the organization that continues to pay these douchebags (very well) for their lacklustre job performance.

Shan said...


It seems to me that the TTC employees who are more upset about being made fun of than actually embarrassed by their sleepy coworkers are just the dumb ones talking. Most TTC employees are probably not that dimwitted. This whole fiasco has been really childish.

sasha said...

Some of the drivers are nice to me. But still, FUCK the TTC. I know that is so trite, but simultaneously is so un-Torontonian. I hate these mushy masturbate over the union sessions when everyone secretly wishes they would go suck it.

andré said...

I love those red jackets. I want one. If you have a red jacket (the kind the people who work on the subway wear) you get free transit for life. I'll join any cause if someone can get me one of those red jackets.

Adeel said...

There's a place on Church, I want to say south of Dundas, that is some sort of authorized dealer/retailer for TTC uniforms. I've run by there a few dozen times.

andré said...

Really? Damn. I wonder if that means they no longer "provide" free transit. Maybe you need to have a full uniform underneath it or something.

I knew a guy who worked on the tracks or in maintenance, and he had one of those jackets, and he wore it everywhere, and he never had to pay. But maybe that's fraud.