Transit union president Bob Kinnear threatened Friday to launch a work-to-rule campaign over the TTC’s yet-to-be approved plans to contract out bus cleaning (story here).
If you listened hard enough Friday night I’m sure you could hear cheers of joy coming out of a weary mayor’s office.
Kinnear has just offered up an issue embattled Mayor Rob Ford, back from his Team Toronto trip to Chicago, can beat like a drum – just in time for his Sunday afternoon radio show.
Now this does assume Ford and his staff will have the good sense to take a whack at it.
Ford has a proven track record of talking tough when it comes to union leadership and – since the city is now locked into contracts with its outside workers, inside workers, cops and the transit union – it’s a file he hasn’t had a chance to weigh into in a while.
His promise of taking a hardline with the unions was a key plank of his 2010 campaign.
Kinnear’s threat of slowing TTC service to the bare minimum required by the contract is a softball pitch, sailing slowly this weekend right over home plate at a major league slugger. If Ford swings at this, he could knock it out of the park and once again be in the driver’s seat of his mayoralty rather than slinking from scandal to scandal and playing hide-and-go-seek with the media.
Whether or not he’ll swing remains to be seen.
He could spend his radio show continuing to take whacks at the media (I’m sure his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, would love to do that and likely will no matter what).
But if the mayor does step up to the plate (and the mic) he could stand up for TTC riders and urge the union to have its workers continue to offer the service they provide every day – and which they collect a taxpayer-funded cheque to do. Ford could also highlight the millions the city expects to save from contracting out cleaners – savings that will help keep fares low for riders, preserve service and reduce the transit subsidy burden on taxpayers. And Ford could challenge Kinnear. He could invite the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president to sit down with the TTC leadership and find a way to offer the service cheaper in-house rather than find ways to make life harder for the transit riders the union (in their new ad campaign) claims to serve.
We’ll find out if Ford will step up to the plate Sunday at 1 p.m.
Hopefully, for the sake of his political career, he doesn’t strike out on this one.