No wonder people spit on them

29May06

Man, the TTC sucks.

Update (3:22 p.m.): Ace public transit blog Transit Toronto reported at 2:48 that the wildcat TTC strike is over. Given the three-hour estimate that I’ve heard it takes to get the system running gain, service should be restored by around a quarter to six, which happens to be when I leave work. So I should be fine getting home, which is a relief.

This strike totally caught me offguard. I only found out about it when a friend of mine who lives a block from my house and works a block from my office called to offer me a ride. I actually made it into work 45 minutes early, although I missed a half hour of sleep and felt like I’d been run over by a bus all morning, so that didn’t necessarily translate to greater productivity.

I convinced a co-worker that the phrase “wildcat strike” was derived from incidents in which workers were unable to report for duty because they’d drank too many bottles of the discount beer Wildcat. The Phrase Finder has the real origin, but suffice it to say that a wildcat strike is an illegal one.

So what was so important that TTC workers were willing to break the law? The most contentious issue is that some workers are being forced to move to the night shift (although the 1982 Henry Winkler/Michael Keaton comedy Night Shift leads one to believe that working the night shift is a very amusing situation). Another issue cited is that of driver safety in the face of increasing incidents of physical, verbal, and expectoratory assault. To back this up, one of the new girls in the office actually used to be a fare collector and says a crackhead once spat in her face. That’s not cool, though I can’t hear about this sort of thing without thinking of Bernie Sanford’s words to Ricky in Trailer Park Boys:

You have crossed a line with me. I’ve had guys throw barbecues at me. They’ve broken the windows out of my car. They’ve cursed and sworn at me. But the bottom line is: I ain’t sugar! And if the right hook comes out, crazy motherfuckers like you get knocked out! Don’t you look me in the eye, boy! I ain’t got no candy for you! No candy … except the right hook!

Assaulting and spitting at TTC staff is obviously inexcusable. But people are pissed off after years of declining service and escalating fares. This illegal strike has cost the TTC workers a lot of sympathy. But don’t believe me. Tell ’em, Harper’s Index:

Janitors employed by the TTC: 87
Subway track movers employed by the TTC: 91
Janitors the TTC proposes to move to the night shift: 53
Subway track movers the TTC proposes to move to the night shift: 53
Membership of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113: 8500
Commuters who use the TTC daily: 800,000
Todays’ temperature, adjusted for humidity: 35°C
Remaining amount of sympathy for TTC workers from many commuters: 0
Amount ($US) NYC’s transit union was fined for an illegal strike last December: 2.5 million
Days NYC transit union leader Roger Toussaint was ordered jailed for contempt: 10
Number of illegally striking air traffic controllers Ronald Reagan fired and permanently barred from federal service in 1981: 11,359
Odds faced by TTC transit workers in a knock-down, drag-out rumble with commuters, if it comes to it: 94:1



2 Responses to “No wonder people spit on them”

  1. 1 Ken

    Having worked nothing but night shift all last year, I must admit you can have some pretty ZANY MISADVENTURES in the wee hours of the night.But.. Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton made a movie together? I have got to get my hands on that!

  2. 2 Peter Lynn

    Yeah, Winkler’s playing against type as the anti-Fonz in that movie. And it also has Shelley Long as a hooker!


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