Thursday, January 23, 2020

So I almost died on a picket line today...

The City Wide Towing truck that almost ran me down.
There were a bunch of trade unionists leafleting drivers entering the Co-op Gas Bar on St Albert Trail in Edmonton this morning. We were asking drivers to get their gas somewhere else to apply consumer pressure to the Co-op Refinery in Regina. The refinery locked their workers out in early December to try to drive rollbacks into the worker’s pension plans (the refinery is hugely profitably).

It was a pretty routine picket line. Picketers with signs were on the sidewalk alongside St Albert Trail for visibility and to alert motorists intending to gas up that there was a picket line at the station. To get into the gas bar, drivers had to turn off St Albert Trail onto a side street, drive about 75 feet, and then turn into the gas station. The picket line with leaflets was at the entrance to the gas bar. Leafleters had orange jackets and reflective vests.

Picketing works: Empty pumps at Co-op.
The first 90 minutes were quiet—only 13 drivers decided to proceed past the picketers and got gas. Many more decided to go up the street to Shell. Some drivers took leaflets and chatted, others didn’t and were waved through with no wait. (The store is not Co-op owned we just waved those customers through as well.) Overall, a very civilized experience.

About 9:30, a heavy haul tow truck from City Wide Towing turned off the St Albert Trail. The driver was shaking his head at the first line of pickets. He then drive towards the gas bar turn in where he started his turn early and drove right through the picket line without slowing. Fortunately, the picketers saw him coming.

I stepped back about three feet. Because of the length of the tow truck, the rear wheels tracked inside his turn and missed me by only few inches. If I hadn’t have stepped back, he would have clipped and I would have gone under the rear tires. He then got out and beaked off at us and went into the store.

After we wrapped up our picket, I called City Wide Towing and reported the incident. I was told a manager and the safety officer would call me back. I said I’d wait until the end of the day to hear from them. So far, no call.

Driver of the tow truck.
Thinking back, the City Wide Driver pretty clearly targeted the picketers with his truck. There was lots of warning of the picket line, lots of room to slow down and stop, and he could even have driven past the first entrance and come in the back way (another 100 feet down the side street). Starting his turn early and not braking were intentional decisions to buzz the line. There was zero remorse when he got out of the truck.

More surprising is City Wide’s complete lack of response. The employee could have injured or killed me or another picketer. That would have resulted in a police investigation, a lawsuit, and tons of bad publicity for City Wide. Clearly, this employee deserves to get canned.

You can call City Wide Towing at 403 287-9111 (press 1 at the menu) if you’d like to let them know what you think of their driver’s behaviour. Or perhaps we should picket them? :)

-- Bob Barnetson


Anonymous said...

I would be reporting them to the Ministry of Labour and Immigration. They should be investigated for failing to investigate a reported Near Miss incident involving ome of their workers.

Unknown said...

#nationwidesolidarity brother. Thank you !!! 3 milliona day? NOT TODAY ! #boycottcoop !!!

Unknown said...

I agree, they should be picketed next.

Ed Lewis said...

Dear Mr. Barnetson

I am glad to hear that everyone is okay and without injury. I take this opportunity to assure you that Immediately after this incident was reported to management, our safety team initiated a thorough Near Miss Review, as per our company policy and in accordance with the Ministry of Labour’s labour standards. This included interviews and a safety review. It takes time for this review process to be performed properly, which is why there was no comment returned immediately following your request.

While the contents of the review cannot be made public for privacy reasons, as a professional organization CityWide can assure you that your questions, comments and concerns are being taken very seriously as all complaints and safety issues are. We hold our staff to high professional and safety orientated standards and any violations of those standards will be dealt with appropriately.

Bob Barnetson said...

Thanks for your response. I'm happy to hear you investigated. I find it strange that your investigation would not include talking to me (to hear what happened) or the witness I offered to provide you with contact information for. This is particularly the case given the lady I spoke with indicated the safety officer and manager would me calling me back. I'm disappointed that you can't share the outcome of the review; that leaves me with little confidence you are taking this seriously.