Full disclosure: I don't rely on the TTC for my daily commute.
However, I lived for 26 years in cities wholly dependent on public transportation, and never owned a car before moving to Canada.
I support the striking transit workers.
I support striking workers everywhere.
The transit workers have power, and they should use it. I wish all workers - myself most definitely included - could wield the kind of power the transit workers can.
People on all points of the political spectrum are foaming at the mouth because union leadership already had announced there would be no strike. But union membership rejected the deal, as is their right to do so. Too often union leadership pushes deals down membership's throat. This time democracy prevailed.
I'm a freelance writer, and an office worker. Although in the US I belonged to the National Writers Union (to my tremendous benefit), I have little power in either of my work capacities. People who actually provide a service that is not easily replaced - television writers, professional athletes, transit workers - should use that leverage to their best advantage. I only wish more of us could be described that way.
I've seen many supposedly progressive bloggers writing (paraphrasing), "I'm all for unions, but..."
Just the other day, in comments on another blog, I was noting how people say, "I'm not racist, but..." then tell you how [these people] are always so lazy/smelly/stupid/tricky. Or, "I'm not gossiping, but..." then tell you personal details about your co-workers that you aren't supposed to know. "I'm not sexist, but I just cannot work for a female supervisor. They're always such bitches."
If you say, "I'm all for unions, except when they inconvenience me," you are not for unions.
A much better post about this is here on Dr. Dawg's Blog. Plus, Dawg calls out the pseudo-progressives by name.
Robert McClelland has run the numbers:
Here's the history of strike action by the union representing TTC workers.
1952: 19 days
1970: 12 days
1974: 23 days
1978: 8 days
1991: 8 days
1999: 2 days
2006: 1 day wildcat
2008: 2 days+
Total: 75 days over 87 years (the TTC was established in 1921)
Average: 0.86 days of strike action per year
Does less than one day per year of inconvenience (or hardship depending on your point of view and economic situation) justify stripping someone of their labour rights?
The TTC is not an essential service. I'm not even sure there should be an essential-service exception to the right to strike.
More power to them!
Update: Judging from the first comment, I guess I wasn't explicit enough. In Philadelphia and New York City, I wasn't car-less for environmental reasons. I didn't own a car because I couldn't afford to (and because in those cities you don't need to). In other words, I took public transportation because I had to, not because I wanted to. I don't commute by TTC now because I live in Mississauga, outside of TTC territory.