People are too focused on the fact that the recently-dismissed bus drivers were unionized, overlooking the fact that the drivers routinely exhibited unsatisfactory performance. The drivers were rude and dismissive to students and grossly unprofessional in their on-duty conduct. From my own first-hand experience, I’ve had instances with drivers driving the wrong route, driving with the doors open for several stops, and on four occasions, while on crutches for a knee injury, I had a door shut on my braced leg as I was exiting the vehicle, and the drivers didn’t have the decency to inquire on my welfare, let alone apologize.
The Groome drivers, however, have consistently surprised me in their outstanding customer service. They are warm, courteous, considerate and generally come across as people who enjoy what they do. Every driver I have ridden with has greeted and echoed well wishes to students entering and exiting the bus.
The “Rally” article from the Jan. 15 Technique where Groome reported that only 17 of the First Transit employees bothered to apply for rehiring, and of the 12 applicants Groome contacted, expressing interest, only seven even bothered to show up for an interview. Obviously, the need to reapply was voiced an some sense because almost half of the old drivers submitted hiring applications. What does that kind of behavior convey? That the old drivers just expected to magically have a job offer when they expressed no interest in employment? In the real world, no one is going to walk around with a platter of job hors d’ourves to pick off at one’s leisure. Students here don’t expect a job to fall into their laps at graduation, so why should we see First Transit drivers as deserving of that kind of solicitation and entitlement?
Allowing employees to assemble to create bargaining power for better benefits is a right we should honor and respect, but it is also the responsibility of each individual worker to submit to the duties his or her position necessitates, responsibilities clearly outlined in an employment contract. If an administrating body does not address when an employee does not meet the requirements of his or her job, it sets a precedent that unacceptable conduct and failure to properly and professionally execute one’s appointment is acceptable. Lowering the bar only serves to exacerbate the problem as the cyclical return to a more and more compromised sense of “satisfactory” collapses the quality of service.
I consider myself to fall very heavily on the liberal side of policy, but even I know you have to draw a line between “deprivation” of labor rights and a collective of people, having grown accustomed to poor managerial supervision and hardly fulfilling the requirements of their jobs, failing to take action to the changing situation. In a recession, you do your job, or someone else will. It’s as simple as that.