X-MEN, STRANGE DAYS, UNIONS AND MIT

You Are Cyclops

Dedicated and responsible, you will always remain loyal to your cause.
You are a commanding leader – after all, you can kill someone just by looking at them.

Power: force beams from your eyes

Greetings,

Okay, so I decided to do one of those bloggy tests. This time, naturally, with X-Men involved.

Today was a very strange day. I wake up after another busy Sunday (Lazy Sunday, hah!) in which, due to the insane heat and humidity (ah, a can’t-lose combination that I learned to deeply dislike during my days in air-conditioning free Kingston) Sunday night, caused me to toss and turn to the point of earning three hours sleep.

Get up, get showered and come into my room and turn on CBC. The news of the TTC shut down puts me immediately onto the computer – how the heck am I getting to work?

Well, turns out, I ended up working from home today. Got a lot accomplished too. It was a strange day only compounded by the fact it was the hottest day of the year and the TTC only started operating later this afternoon. I can honestly say I’m glad I didn’t even attempt the trip today.

Which brings me to my next point – Unions.

As a journalist, I’m entitled to appreciate the myriad of positions involved in any labour dispute. Of course, this is before one side does something illegal. Or when they are negligent in their duties to protect their membership.

The TTC’s union handed itself a serious blow today in the public trust issue Mayor Miller spoke about today – they come out looking seriously bad in this situation. I’m all for taking the position of a union when it comes to the rights of workers, but when you cross the line and commit an illegal act, it isn’t just your actions that exist in some bubble; you’re effectively saying to the public, “we don’t care about the laws” and sending a message that if you want attention or progress to your cause made, go ahead and break the law.

Teachers (sorry, but you’re not innocent either) haven’t broken the law in Ontario, but remember when B.C. teachers went on an illegal strike to protest the government’s admittedly heavy-handed approach to labour negotiation? The militancy of unions is growing in the public sector, mostly because there seems to be a perception that normal bargining processes aren’t working anymore due to the highly aggressive tactics on both sides. Governments dig in their heels, hoping to break the union’s sometimes-outrageous demands, unions drag out the issue longer than is needed until an issue grows to the point of intolerability for Joe and Jane Public and blame gets shifted to governments who come out looking like nickel-and-diming, bureaucratic ogres.

Is this symptomatic of some kind of broader issue in the public sphere? With faith in our public institutions eroding at a phenomenal rate, it seems like industrial relations is suffering from the same problems that are affecting much of our traditional social structures – they’re breaking up due to highly fragmented interests within the organizations themselves. The Starbucks Democracy theory – the idea individuals within a democracy are becoming increasingly unhappy with the limited choices to make based on the need to customize all other aspects of one’s life – seems to apply in this case; there are many competing interests in the TTC’s union.

Unions are not dying breeds so much as they are fragmenting ones. Folks in my generation aren’t so hot on union representation as, say, the Boomers, mostly because there exists a perception unions and their leadership structures aren’t really interested in protecting newer, younger workers in light of fiscal pressures being applied to both public and private sector jobs (or just plain lack of desire to move forward, whatever the case may be).

MIT: Check out this amazing dorm room from some students at MIT. It’s a one-push button system that turns their room into a dance club. Brilliant. Even though the music sounds like a third-rate version of Kraftwerk and the lighting is out of a Euro-trash yard sale, it’s still great ingenuity.

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