The 1976 strike lasted from January 26 to March 12, 1976. That's 47 days without service - in the middle of winter no less! I wasn't in the city at the time, but I had friends who were here, and it was hell for many of them to get to school and work. Some managed to carpool, some hitch hiked and some just had to walk.
We've had threats of strikes since, but this latest is the closest we've come since. The city had even delivered fencing and barricades to the transit garages so that management could lock out drivers.
The drivers had been refusing overtime for the last several days as part of work action. That meant that during peak hours, there were anywhere from 15 - 25 less buses on the road. Passengers had to do daily checks on the web site or through the local TeleBus phone system to learn if their route was effected.
I am in complete support of the transit drivers. Working split shifts and/or 7 days straight is ridiculous. I've talked with many drivers over the years and they are fed up with management, split shifts and scheduling. That type of scheduling takes a heavy toll on the health and family life of anybody.
The vast majority of drivers are helpful, friendly and considerate to most passengers. I always sit at the front of the bus for easy exit and to hear the driver call stops. I've had ample opportunity to hear some of the abuse that they put up with from riders. Regardless of the type of day I am having, I always greet the driver, use please when requesting info/stop and say thank you as I get off.
I have lived in the city for close to 25 years and am almost completely dependant on the regular transit service to get me to and from grocery shopping, appointments and other activities. A full out strike would have made life very difficult for myself and thousands of others who rely on this vital service.
There is a Safeway nearby, but who can afford their prices? I prefer Superstore which is about 6k each way (20 minutes by bus) or Price Choppers (10 minutes by bus). If there had been a strike, I'd have been walking 3k each way to Price Choppers. I was not looking forward to it. Walking is not a relaxing activity, as I am so focused on the safety of each step and my surroundings, that I cannot enjoy the exercise.
At the beginning of last week, a strike seemed imminent. Fearing the worst, I made a trip to Superstore on Tuesday morning to do a MAJOR stock up on non perishable items that I may run low on in the next month or so. I wasn't about to be forced into paying premium prices for my regular purchases. I did the same thing a couple of years ago when the staff of Superstore were within hours of a strike. They settled that night!
I stocked up. Superstore settled less than 24 hours later. Transit settled 2 days later. Coincidence? Probably, but I like to think that I spent that extra money to prevent the strikes! Prepare for the worst and you won't need it.
I'm relieved that the strike has been averted. As a good friend of mine said; "A strike would have left a lot of us screwed - and not in the delightful way!"