Home Again! Home Again!

And now we're back. The trip from Ann Arbor to Kitchener was five hours long, one hour of that spent on I-94 in stop-and-go Detroit traffic. Nuts to the Ambassador Bridge, I say! Nuts! To all of you reading this, here's a tip: if you're driving to Ann Arbor and points west (like Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis, etc), drive down the 401, then take the 402, and cross the border over the Bluewater bridge. Interstate-quality highways lead right up to both ends of the bridge; the customs officials are quick and efficient, and you avoid Detroit traffic. Most of the trucks end up going via Windsor anyway. Even those going to Ann Arbor should take the Bluewater bridge and drive along I-69 to Flint and then down US-23.

I know this is car information, but why can't a transit geek possess some good car travel information?

Summertime and the breathing ain't easy in Toronto. The garbage strike is getting ugly, but that's still no reason to bash workers out to get the best deal for themselves and their families. And who are we to say whether or not a worker is overpaid or not? I've heard too often people dismiss the work of others saying "$41,000 per year to drive a bus?!!? Give me a break!"

Anybody who thinks that a certain wage rate is sufficient for a certain worker should ask to shadow such a worker through his or her daily activity. It can be done, you know. Contact someone at the city, or at the union, and they'll be glad to have you over for a day. It will help you settle upon a good career, and for the employers, it's good P.R. with the Ministry of Human Resources.

Once you do that, and consider their job critically, and consider their pay rate critically (after taxes, per month, considering the high cost of living of the city in question) and ask yourself whether or not you could do the job willingly for the amount of money paid.

If you can, join up. If you can't, shut up.

It's easy to think that the other guy has it easy. We ourselves don't pick up rotting garbage off the streets, day in and day out, in temperatures ranging from -20'C windchill to 40'C humidex. We don't drive through the streets of Toronto eight hours a day in an un-airconditioned bus dealing with potentially surly or violent passengers. To mix my metaphors, it's the old fable of the grass being greener on the other side: don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes.

Yes, I know that conditions in Toronto have been horribly uncomfortable for everyone in this board. Anybody stuck in that town has my deepest sympathies. And, yes, I think the situation is getting grave enough (no thanks to Mel's intransigence and hotheaded remarks) that we may have to legislate an end to this strike and send the whole thing to binding arbitration. But all that is happening is the free market at work. The union has this power because there isn't a flood of workers willing to pick garbage at bargain rates. And, ask yourself: should there be? Do we really want to remove one of the few balances against the Worldcoms and Enrons of this world? How much do you think your job would be worth if worker protections were so limited?

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