Politics

Transit Union Website Really Has to Go

By RTH Staff
Published October 31, 2007

With the unionized HSR workers having rejected the city's latest offer, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 has unveiled a website titled, Gimme A Break, HSR.

Citing unresolved issues around pay equity (including overtime pay after eight hours' work, breaks or lieu pay, vacation improvements and inclusion in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System), access to washrooms, assaults on operators, and service reductions, the website is part of a public strategy to pressure the city into addressing its concerns.

The emotional centrepiece of the website is a sequence of photos showing a 'toilet' for HSR operators in the woods, complete with toilet paper hanging on an adjacent branch and a graphic example of the sanitary facilities in action.

Eager not to offend, the website designers placed the photo, er, spread behind confirmation links, noting, "viewer discretion is advised".

12 Comments

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2007 at 11:46:15

I had to laugh at this:

"Good transit takes other people out of their cars, leaving more room on the road for you"

But seriously this looks like a crappy situation for the HSR operators. I'd just assumed that for such a demanding job with brutal shifts, generous breaks would be provided.

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By .-. (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2007 at 20:58:32

That site is bull**** propaganda. I'm not employed by the city, but I do take the HSr every day.
Their claims are exagerated, and some are even totally false.
This is just union propaganda, and most (educated) hamiltonians won't buy it.
thanks

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By Unbelievable (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2007 at 22:47:12

Geez, $23.00 an hour to drive a bus and full benefits including a pension, doesn't sound bad to me. Typical union poor me syndrome.

I'm sure this is exagerated.........downtown their always in Infusions or the cafe at 1 James St. S.

If they don't like it, then quit and find another job!! I'm sure many people would gladly take a position with the HSR.

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By lucky (registered) | Posted November 02, 2007 at 21:52:08

If you dont mind taking a tongue lashing :"they "are not always in Fusions and "they" have not a typical union syndrome "if there is one" .,there is nothing exagerated about that and its obvious you know nothing of other peoples business regarding whether they should be quitting.....sounds like they have an easy job eh ! Try it buddy you might get a big surprise .........$23 an hour might not be so attractive .......please make sure you have your facts straight ..........I`m somewhat perturbed about your attitude .

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By beancounter (registered) | Posted November 02, 2007 at 22:33:59

I think that it's easy to say that the material on the website is just propaganda.

I know only one bus driver personally at this point and she said that it was quite stressful to drive a bus because of the tight schedules. Also, she once stopped her bus in front of our house so she could use our bathroom.

Perhaps the RTH staff could do a random survey of bus drivers and get their opinion on these matters to see whether the website reflects the attitude of the average HSR bus driver.

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By Brendan (registered) | Posted November 05, 2007 at 01:36:13

Every route schedule that I've seen budgets at least 15 minutes at the end of a line before the driver has to turn around. As far as I know, the HSR has no routes longer than an hour. That makes a 10-15 minute break (depending on schedule slippage) every hour. Most of the end of line stops have washroom facilities too. Yet every morning at 9, my #4 operator stops mid-route at a time hortons for coffee while the people on the bus wait. Maybe the HSR can build better facilities, but given operator's behaviour, I find their complaints disingenuous.

Hamilton is the only transit service I've ever seen which allow operators to take such breaks in the middle of a run.

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By Brendan (registered) | Posted November 05, 2007 at 01:39:28

(Note - I'm happy to be proven wrong with real evidence of a pee-break deficit, but that's not what i got from that website)

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By Practical (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2007 at 09:04:21

In this day and age I'm sure it is a reasonable request to be able to access facilities that will provide relief for the HSR bus operators that need to use them.....I'm sure the pictures on the web site (if real) are the extreme exception as opposed to the norm.....if this is the case....then I'm sure the Management can provide Port-o-lets at these locations with a lock on the door, that can only be accessed by HSR Operators as a PRACTICAL and Reasonable solution.

In terms of the wage issue....$23.00 per hour is a fairly decent wage....and I'm sure there are benefits involved as well..costing probably about $12 dollars an hour....add that the wage of $23 per hour = $ 35.00 per hour.....and that is very very reasonable....

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By JH (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2007 at 14:48:01

As Hamiltonians, is it really so surprising that HSR transit operators rely on public campaigning through media channels, including the radio and internet, to get their message across? Surely this type of campaigning is evidence of a healthy labour-industry relationship, in which people (surprise!) are viewed as people with rights, and not just as working drones.
It seems disingenuous to the cause of the workers to deride the content of the site by calling it "emotional." Advertising is regulated for "facticity" in only some sectors; political lobbying is hardly the place you look for solid "factual" accounts reliant on no emotional affect whatsoever. As if the city's actions have been purely transparent and non manipulative!
Maybe what's missing, here, in the campaign naysayers, is a compassionate response to the actual call for ordinary citizens to empathize with what, to HSR workers, are experienced as unhealthy working conditions.
In terms of reasonable wages, it would be useful to track the wages of transit workers through time, to see how the actual increase in wages maps on the real cost of living. Then you would get an accurate picture of what constitutes an adequate, or "reasonable" wage.

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By Practical (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2007 at 10:18:25

I believe if the ATU executive and the HSR management teams were to discuss the "facilities" issue in the context of the "norm" the kind of sites on the Unions web page would shown as a very rare exception....not to justify the conditions as this is not acceptable....but they could come up with a solution that is cost effective and not requiring the construction of a very expensive brick and mortor "facility.

I'm sure some end of the line routes could not even accommodate a facility as there may not be water and sewer services available ..like in some rural locations in Flamborough or Glanbrook for instance.

As for the wages....I'm sure the Union and or the HSR management has or can provide the statistical information you suggest in terms of the cost of living....having said this....this is an argument all workers can and do use....as most workers....have fallen behind the rate of inflation throughout the 80, and 90s.....the bottom line is...the TAXPAYERS have to dig into their pockets to pay for this....and if that scenario was applied across the board...all workers would be behind.....at the end of the day....$35.00 p/hr (with benefits) is not to shoddy

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By w willy (registered) | Posted November 06, 2007 at 16:55:10

Not aware of a 15 minute break on each end of the 34.

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By charts.1 (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2010 at 15:38:27

HSR drivers make comparable wages/benefits to other transit workers in the province of ontario. Firefighters, police officers make comparable wages/benefits to other fire/police in the province etc.

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