Inarticulate union leader blames Toronto public for TTC woes
by: James Di Fiore
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Bob Kinnear, the head of the Almagamated Transit Union local 113, lambasted the public at a press conference, blaming them for systemic problems at Toronto’s mass transit service.
Sound familiar? Well, it should.
Kinnear is making a habit out of scapegoating the Toronto public when his own competence is legitimately questioned. In the 2008 TTC strike he abruptly stranded thousands of transit customers without warning, erroneously stating the decision made was to protect his workers from “angry and irrational members of the public.” During negotiations with the TTC, Kinnear had promised to give 48 hours notice before walking off the job but in the end decided 90 minutes was enough.
And people wonder why unions have a bad name is some circles.
His latest farce took place at a press conference on February 9th. It was classic Kinnear, complete with a faux tough-guy voice meant to show his members he had their backs. Not so surprisingly, the statement came off forced, lacking any trace of real professionalism.
“Listen people, stop harassing people who are doing their jobs,” Kinnear told a news conference Tuesday. “Stop insulting them. Stop waving camera phones in their face. Stop spitting on them. Stop calling them lazy and overpaid.”
Kinnear continued. “We will be prepared to listen to constructive criticism and take it to heart,” he said. “We will listen to customer complaints if they are presented in a reasonable way and if we are given the courtesy of giving a courteous reply.”
It is always entertaining to hear a person demand reason and courtesy while behaving unreasonable and arrogant.
In the world of public relations, Kinnear is a nightmare. His crass, unpolished communications skills are evenly matched with his complete lack of respect for the millions of people who ultimately pay his members’ salaries. His tactic – pandering to his base while using the public as pawns and patsies – symbolize an ineptness of diplomacy when attempting to garner public support. In short, Kinnear is a colossal failure.
This latest public rant comes on the heels of TTC Chair Adam Giambrone’s failed mayoral bid after the candidate’s very public sex scandal involving a 20-year-old university student. While Giambrone has not yet announced plans to abandon his transit post, it showcases the rooted failure of the TTC to have effective leadership on both sides of the Commission.
If the public is deciding to hold Giambrone accountable for the TTC’s diminishing reputation, Kinnear deserves the same fate. After a two-year decline in quality service, an ill-advised surprise strike and another fare increase, the public has the right to feel used by Kinnear and the workers he represents.
I bet you $3 he does not learn his lesson.