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A Hand Up Or A Hand Out

There are two sides to this discussion and the results of the discussion are something that I find fascinating.

On one side we have those who feel that it is vital that we give people the tools to get ahead in life.

On the other side we have those who feel it is vital that we make sure people have the necessities of life.

There are valid points to both arguments and there are fallacies in both arguments.

This is not a black and white, all or nothing issue.

We need to make sure people have the necessities of life, while at the same time we work to give them the tools to get ahead in life.

Doing either one without the other will almost always result in failure. The reason being that doing one without the other will almost always leave the job only half done.

We can teach a person all the tools we want to fend for themselves, but if we do not get them enough food, for the night, or a place to sleep, or the mental or financial help they need to sustain themselves until they can get working and making an income, then all the work we do teaching them is wasted.

On the other hand we can give a person all the food, clothes, housing, money and even health care we want, but unless we teach them how to find work (or even train them in a new field if necessary) then we will simply end up having to do this forever.

One of the major failures of all the programs that are out there to help people is that the vast majority of the programs focus only on one aspect of helping a person out. Each program needs to be doing or enabling both aspects of giving a person a hand as without both programs, neither program can work in a vacuum.

So another two weeks later and back to a city council meeting.

I was no happier with the results tonight then last meeting though in all honesty I felt that perhaps we may have approached them with a lot more aggression tonight because of the way we were treated last time.

What did not change was the way we were treated. They have still not understood that while we stood by and gave them 8 weeks to solve this problem, we are no longer at 10 weeks going to be willing to stand by and continue to let them put peoples livlihood at risk because of egos.

It was also pointed out to them that what ever was asked of the front-line workers should also be expected of the drivers  (if there is a cost savings reduction from the workers then there needs to be a comparable cost savings reduction from management)

What has become increasingly apparent over the past few weeks of watching this ongoing battle of wills is that there is unlikely to be any movement on either side without a good solid bit of motivation, and since talking does not seem to be doing the job then it is going to require action.

Basically while looking at various options It has become apparent that the only way we are going to get any form of movement is by seeking a court order forcing the return of transit service to the streets of Moncton. It is quite obvious that there is no other tactic by users that will get the attention of either the city or the union in a strong enough manner to get their attention.

If they continue to keep on bickering past a back to work court order then the only option left will be to seek essential service designation through the courts (the Alward Government has made it quite clear they are not about to get involved and care little about the needs of the individual, and those Liberals who bothered to respond were at best non committal in their support)

While it is not the solution that many of us would prefer (a negotiated settlement) and it is almost guaranteed to upset both the union and the city, I truly feel that neither side truly understands exactly what the citizens of this city mean when we say do what it takes to make sure this service returns to full capacity as soon as possible.

So I went to the Moncton City Council Meeting on August the 20th and I actually had something to say.

Moncton City Council August 20th 2012 the video can be found at that link.

For those who choose not to watch it, my part went like this:

I spoke about the people who are losing their jobs because there were no buses, I mentioned the fact that because we are now two months into no buses, some people will start to lose their homes.

I also discussed the fact that seniors, some of who would be spending their last summer with us are stuck in their homes.

I also discussed the fact that the taxi chit program still cost so much that the only people who could use it effectively already had cars anyway.

I told both the city and the union that the time to end this was now. And I also told the council that it was no good to sit in their chairs and decide which contracts they were going to honour, they needed to be actively involved in the negotiation or else they should sign what their negotiators put in front of them because it is no good to say “the last 2 years were a waste, go do it again”

Now let’s look at my overall view of the way the council meeting played out with regards to the citizen presentations. The presentations have all been rehashed but I will quickly cover them in no particular order.

Daniel Robichaud and Robert Melanson discussed how there not being buses affects the disabled.

Cecille Callista discussed in more detail how it affected seniors.

Lucien Sivret covered many of these points and discussed the fact that many people no longer care who is at fault they simply want the buses back.

After these four had spoken, the Deputy Mayor (Merrill Henderson) responded with a very familiar, prepared statement that he read. There was no news in this statement except for the fact that in the last offer to the union while the wages offered were lower, they also indicated that several of the benefits that were given up in the so called “handshake deal” were restored in this offer (it is worth noting that there did seem to be a bit of surprise at this news from the union leader George Turple the reason for the bit of surprise is not completely clear)

This was followed up by Sylvia Breau approaching the podium and asking to address council. While there was some pushing and prodding, after some initial hesitation she was allowed to speak. Her concern was what the backup plan was with the buses out of service in the case of an emergency that would normally use the aid of a bus or two (or more). References were made to the movement of all the passengers from the planes on 9-11 which some people may not be too concerned about happening again any time soon. However, reference was also made to the Tire Fire on Mill Road where buses were used to transport children from the daycare to a place of safety, there are plenty of other times they are used as well, for things like minor evacs, temporarily holding people when a large building is on fire etc.

This was responded to by the city manager in a very vague way. Sylvia was told that if she had any questions on this, she should ask the fire chief or the RCMP. I personally believe that it is quite possible that before that question was raised last even this possibility had not ever crossed the minds of any of the city staff. While I hope asking the question does get a backup plan created, I personally do not think one existed at the time the question was asked.

At this point the city council attempted to go into normal business, while Dan Robichaud decided to attempt to reclaim the mike and question why nothing was being addressed. After a brief minute his mike was shut off, and  amongst some mutters and shouts (while Dan still tried to be heard without the mike) the large majority of the crowd walked out.

That is the brief synopsis.

Here is what I noticed over the run of the meeting.

First while at initial glance it may look like we were completely unsuccessful in getting our point across to council, that may not have been entirely true.

Both Dawn Arnold and Daniel Bourgeois appeared to be very closely listening to what was being said. Pierre Boudreau appeared to be nodding to a few points that were made.

A news article also reported that Shawn Crossman spoke during a later portion of the meeting suggesting that the union should be given a chance to speak as well.

To me this indicates that perhaps what was said last night did not go unheard. Whether we will be listened to or not is still in question but we were heard and a few payed at least some attention.

I am not saying that none of the other councillors were paying attention, or that none were in agreement with us but those who I mentioned were ones who stood out to me with their behaviours last evening.

There were some incredibly disappointing factors as well.

The address given to those of us who spoke by the deputy mayor addressed a grand total of none of the issues we raised.

We no longer care about placing blame, we no longer care about what it takes to get it done. We believe that both sides of the issue need to sit down and actually start to negotiate and we believe that in all honesty this can only be done from a completely fresh page.

End the lockout, cancel all talk of a strike. Bring the proper number of people on board to do the job. Put the buses on the road and sit in a room and talk. 5 days a week from now until it is over.

The citizens of the city are sick and tired of excuses and it is high time both the city and union manned up. Sat down and actually did what we expect them to do. Find a reasonable solution and start to rebuild our transit system.

This was originally posted on the Newschaser Facebook group by Josie Lk LeBlanc and is recopied here with her permission.

So I just left a msg on the city of Moncton’s page and OF COURSE THEY DELETED IT because they know I’m right.. and so is EVERYONE ELSE who keeps posting about the bus situation … I’m gonna repost it here, I want it SEEN and heard, everyone HAS A RIGHT TO THERE OWN OPINIONS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.. they had NO right to delete it. **** IN MY OPINION , ( THE CITY OF MONCTON AND ALL CODIAC TRANSIT BUS DRIVERS ) : You guys seriously need to get your S%&#$ TOGETHER! The busses are an URGENT situation that NEEDS to be resolved NOW.. You have single mother’s out there struggling to feed their children because they can’t even make it to a grocery store, and/or nursing their children at home in hopes that their health will improve without medical care because they cannot make it to a doctor’s office, and/or children being penalized and made to stay indoors or out in their yards in 30 PLUS weather because they cannot find a way to bring their children to a POOL where it is fit for that child to be in weather like this.. ect.. You have Hard working people who have 1. Lost jobs over this, 2. can barely afford to make their rent or food money because they can’t get to work all the hours there supposed to be with no transportation IF they can get there at all , you have people walking 1 to 2 hours in this 30 plus heat to get to where they need to go with no choice but to do it. People dehydrating and getting sun stroke because of these crazy long walks there forced to walk.. You’ve got Senior citizens WALKING AN HOUR OR SO AWAY TO DO THINGS THEY ABSOLUTELY CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO DO, like Go get their Meds they have to pick up daily ( and not even just senior citizens , EVERYONE in this situation ) also they are not able to make certain medical appointments and such just like others, and for senior citizens it is VERY important when it comes to medical attention, some of them REALLY CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS THOSE APPOINTMENTS.. ect ect……………….. THIS IS RIDICULOUS.. absolutely OUTRAGEOUS !.. Okay I don’t know who’s in the right here you guys saying no or them for wanting more or however it’s working BUT I DO KNOW THOSE OF MONCTON NEW BRUNSWICK DO NOT DESERVE TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF EITHER OF YOUR GUY’S DECISIONS.. if you’re not going to fix this immediately and get things back to how they should be, THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS ARRANGE SOME KIND OF TRANSPORTATION FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY NEED IT.. and no not ten percent off of a cab, GET REAL.. who the heck can afford to take cabs everywhere they go.. come on now. In my opinion you guys should hire special drivers, ON CALL drivers for emergencies JUST LIKE THIS so that THE CITY OF MONCTON DOES NOT HAVE TO SUFFER WHILE YOU GUYS SIT AROUND WITH NOT A CARE IN THE WORLD SEEING WHO CAN HAVE THE LAST WORD AND WIN THIS LITTLE BATTLE.. GET IT TOGETHER… DO SOMETHING FOR THE PUBLIC … YOU MAY THINK ITS NOTHING BUT ITS RUINING THE LIVES OF THOSE IN MONCTON TRYING TO MAKE IT DAY BY DAY.. YOUR RUINING PEOPLE’S LIVES EVERY SINGLE DAY.. WHETHER YOU RECOGNIZE IT OR NOT. That’s all I got to say.. I’m so TICKED at this situation.. LIKE THIS POST IF YOU AGREE THAT THEY SHOULD EITHER FIND ON CALL DRIVERS SO WE DONT HAVE TO SUFFER WHILE THEY SORT THIS OUT OR JUST GET IT FIXED PERIOD!!!! .. I think we should start our own strike/protest.. HONESTLY.. I’ve been thinking about it the past few days..I DONT SEE YOU GUYS WALKING AROUND AND FEELING OUR PAIN … I DARE YOU TO DO IT JUST FOR 2 DAYS BE RESTRICTED FROM YOUR VEHICLES JUST TO FEEL OUR EMOTIONAL/PHYSICAL PAIN ON THIS BEHALF… I BET NONE OF YOU WOULD EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING IT EVEN FOR A DAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .. I THINK YOU SHOULD BE FORCED BY THE GOVERNMENT ALL OF YOU AND THE BUS DRIVERS FOR 2 DAYS AT THE LEAST JUST TO MAKE YOU ALL REALISE WHAT YOUR PUTTING US THROUGH!!!!!!!!!!!.. This is just flat-out disrespect to the citizens of Moncton.

The Forgotten Aspect Of The Transit Dispute

While there is the foregone conclusion that Unions have the right to strike and that employers have the right to lock them out, things that have been said in recent days has made me look at some of these issues from a slightly different perspective.

While many of us have an opinion on who is right and who is wrong in the current transit dispute, there are some who are taking the brunt of the punishment and they are in all reality not involved.

The poor, who rely on public transit to get to things from jobs to shopping to doctors and even the food bank.

The seniors who during the middle of summer often use the bus to get around town because winter is so treacherous for them with all the ice and snow.

Tourists who come to town with the intent of using public transit to get around town to various sites and events within town and who plan their trip financially accordingly.

These are the people most affected by a transit dispute and these people are always told by both sides to “blame the other guy, he is being unreasonable”

One big concern I have always had with transit disputes is that there are always people who will lose their jobs because they are unable to get to work.

There are of course the drive with friends option which works for a little while, but that grows old with time. There are the cabs, but math on that option does not work well.

For example using 20 dollars to get to work in a cab (not unreasonable) 5 days a week becomes 200 dollars a week.  10/hr pays approx 800 a pay before deductions. after deductions you can expect approx 650 per 2 week period. Add to that the 200/wk cab costs and you now bring home 250 every 2 weeks with which you need to buy groceries, pay rent, phone, cable and anything else you need to survive.

Now not everyone is on 10 dollars an hour, some make more. But some work less then 40 hours a week as well.

Sometimes we need to look extremely closely at the situation that is being created and determine if it is the best interest of either party to continue with the status quo.

My suggestion as it has been for a long time.

Put the buses back on the road

two council members and two union members sit down 3 hours a day with an arbitrator every day until there is a deal.

The time for solving this problem is long since past and now it is time to actually put actions to words. The citizens of the City of moncton are fed up. We want our buses on the road, we want them on the road now. No more games, fix the problem end of story.