Discussion in 'Reality Check' started by C. Mike Hunt, Jan 22, 2012.
Just under 700 Metro Transit workers have voted 98.4 per cent against the Halifax Regional Municipality's final contract offer.
Ken Wilson, president of Local 508, called the HRM's offer an "insult."
"I've heard rumours from my members that the mayor [Peter Kelly] was on the TV tonight saying that this was a fair offer that he offered us. It is absolutely not," he told CBC News on Sunday night.
"We are a vital part of the organization. We're not looking for a lot, we're looking to be respected and to be treated fairly, as we have for the last 30 years with this employer. The majority of times, anyway."
Wilson said the biggest concession his members disagreed with was contracting out, which he said was the reason for the five-week Metro Transit strike in 1998.
He said the HRM's wording of "contracting out" means the employer could contract out any work except for work on the scheduled run guide — also meaning specific routes could be contracted out to other people.
Part-time worker proposal rejected
Wilson said after the 1998 strike, the municipality left that article alone for 14 years. He stressed that bringing it up again would "deeply affect the maintenance department, the Access-A-Bus division, the receiver's office and possibly even our conventional transit."
He said another problem his members had with the city's offer was the idea of having part-time employees.
Wilson said in Metro Transit's 2006 contract, a stipulation was made that drivers have eight-hour rest periods in between their shifts. He said his members came to accept it, but now the city is asking for part-time workers.
"How do you police a part-timer's sleep?" Wilson questioned.
"You could work backshift at the hospital then get off, come in and drive a bus. Do you want someone who hasn't slept all night coming in and driving your kids to school?" he added.
"It's absolutely unacceptable and I can't believe the mayor would say it's a fair offer."
Strike could start Feb. 2
Wilson said if a deal is not reached by Feb. 1 at the end of service day, members of Local 508 would go on strike Feb. 2.
Officials with the Halifax Regional Municipality said in a release that they are disappointed the offer was rejected.
"We put forward a contract package, inclusive of wage increases, that would allow us to build a sustainable, reliable transit service for the future," Metro Transit director Eddie Robar stated in the release.
"We're just going to step into the conciliator process here, and we're open to meet whenever the conciliator sees fit and that will be our next step," Robar told CBC News.
Robar would not comment to CBC News about the comments Wilson made about contracting or part-time workers.
"We're going to try to keep that at the bargaining table itself and not get into bargaining in the media," he said.
"We tabled a fiscally responsible offer, something that was fair, and by asking them to take it to the membership, we were hopeful for a positive outcome and that didn't happen."
Robar added that because both sides are still willing to get back to the bargaining table, the HRM is still hoping for an agreement.
The Metro Transit employees voted following a meeting on Sunday morning to hear a presentation from the union.
Talks broke off between the Amalgamated Transit Union and the city earlier this month. Metro Transit workers have been without a contract since Sept. 1.
Representatives of the union and the municipality met with a conciliator eight times from November to January before talks broke down.
Wilson said the conciliator filed his report on Jan. 18 at the city's request, putting the two sides in a legal strike or lockout position on Feb. 2.
Wilson said earlier Sunday he was pleased to see that more than half of the unionized transit workers showed up so early on a Sunday morning.
The bargaining committee had recommended its members reject the offer.
Wilson said the union has members in Canada and the United States. The president of the international union, Larry Hanley, came from Washington to Halifax Sunday to lend his support.
The local union represents more than 760 bus drivers, ferry operators, mechanics, maintenance staff and office employees.
Metro Transit has a ridership of about 96,000 people daily.
It's going to be really hard to me to get to school without Metro Transit, not looking forward to this.
Unionized Metro Transit workers want Halifax residents to help get them back to the bargaining table.
"Call the mayor. Call the councillors," Ken Wilson, president of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said Thursday.
Representatives of the union and Halifax Regional Municipality met with the help of a conciliator eight times from November to January before talks broke down.
The union’s negotiating team will meet with the membership Sunday to present the city’s final offer.
"We are recommending the membership (reject) the employer’s offer," Wilson said.
He would not specify any particular stumbling blocks but said the city came to the table looking for 250 concessions.
"There are so many concessions that it would affect every single member of the ATU," Wilson said.
At the city’s request, the conciliator filed his report Wednesday, Wilson said. That puts the two sides into a legal strike or lockout position on Feb. 2.
"This employer has never come out so hard, so fast, in our history," Wilson said.
He said the last time the transit union had a labour dispute was in 1998.
"It seems to me there is some type of agenda . . . but I don’t know from whom."
Wilson said he understands that Metro Transit is operating in a deficit, but he said that’s standard for the industry.
Metro Transit’s buses and ferries carry about 90,000 passengers a day.
"The last thing we want to do is . . . leave people stranded," Wilson said.
Local 508 represents almost 800 bus drivers, ferry operators, mechanics, maintenance staff and receiver’s office employees whose contract expired Sept. 1.
I hate unions
This will make traffic even more fantastic.
Well for the most part yes but im kinda glad im in one lol
I really hope this doesn't happen. Parking at work is expensive, so I bus to work every day.
I heard about this today and they say about 90K people take the bus everyday.
This will fuck me.....also I found out that starting salary for a bus driver is $23.29/hr
*edit did not read article it mentions 96K/per day riders
/works in IT and can work from home crew signing in
no bus service where I live crew signing in
i will not be pleased... parking DT is expensive
I may be able to convince my boss to let me do this as well lol
Though I don't usually agree with unions, I can see their point.
Accepting an offer that basically gives the municipality the ability to contract out their jobs doesn't make much sense on their part.
I tried taking the bus here where I live to get to work.
I would have to leave 50 mins earlier then I do now, transfer once and walk approximately 1 km all while getting me to work 45 mins later then I do now.
It's never been convenient to ride the bus here.
So I drive to work.
This will suck...
With the wife needing the vehicle for her new job, Ive been back to riding the bus...
hopefully this will get resolved soon!
Cool story bro, very relevant.
The drivers just got the right to cut anyone off by law. You'd think they'd be happy!
free space for rent
Apparently, during the last strike, traffic actually improved in the city and everyone got along fine. It definitely didn't have the desired effect from the union's perspective.
I don't see how the majority of people that use the transit system would get along fine without it. I assume more people use the transit system because they need to not because they want too
pretty good wages to drive like a complete mouth breathing retard most of the time.
yeahhh....ive seen some of the shit bus drivers have to deal with from passengers....their money is well earned. I wouldn't want to do it....I am a patient guy, but I would end up being fired for cuffing some mouthy teenager or losing my shit on some whiny fuck that didn't get the seat they think they deserve.
thank kind of stuff comes with the territory. dont want to deal with snotty teens and drunk minorities? work a desk job for $15 an hour
Yes I am a complete mouth breathing retard
Companies set up car-pool bulletin boards, people found other solutions. Just talked to my co-worker about this and he remembers it clearly.
pipe down man....they aren't supposed to know you can read and type beyond a 3rd grade level
Man, some of the fucking bus drivers are TERRRRRRIBLE........same goes for car/truck drivers though.
I have also had a few excellent bus drivers
Still feel most users would be majorly inconvenienced. A couple of trips to the grocery store/work/doctor/etc in a cab would be more $ than a month's bus pass
From the perspective of a university student I take the bus because I have to. I live in Sackville and go to Dal, I don't own my own car. I use my parent's cars on occasion but I wont be able to depend on it when/if Metro Transit goes on strike. Both of my parents work so I also can't rely on them to drive me to and from school and work everyday. If the strike lasts long enough I'll have to look at purchasing a car long before I wanted to. Dal said we'd be partially reimbursed for our U-passes, which is nice because they won't be of use, but it's not my main concern. I'm worried about being able to get places that I need to be.
the majority of your co workers are yes.
when im along side of a bus and it starts to come in my lane and the moron behind the wheel waves his arms around giving me the finger because i couldnt let him merge, thats some caveman behavior. sorry im not going to pull into oncoming traffic to let them in. i guess the cost of self entitlement is 23.29 an hr, with the perk or sitting down all day driving loops around the city. sign me up.
I can simply say I've never done that, but anyway the insult was applied and taken. I won't argue about it. I can not speak for the other drivers who have done that and I'm sure it's been done many a time. Even in my own car I've had cars force me into opposing lanes or off the road let alone have a bus do it to me.
Halifax transit workers have overwhelming rejected a contract offer from the city, and could therefore go on strike February 2.
The contract vote was unambiguous. About 700 of the 763 transit workers cast ballots, with 98.4 voting against---fewer than 10 people voted to accept the city’s offer, says Ken Wilson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508, which represents local transit workers.
The city’s contract offer was “an insult” to the workers, says Wilson, who maintains that the city has acted in bad faith since the union’s previous contract expired in September.
The city offered a small pay increase, but that wasn’t the sticking point, says Wilson. “What is the point of striking over wages in 2012? I know the economy’s bad. The state of the economy---everyone’s going through a downturn---we understand that.”
Rather, says Wilson, the city is trying to turn back previous agreements over scheduling, the use of part-time employees and, most importantly, contracting out entire job categories like mechanics, Access-A-Bus drivers, ferry staff and potentially even regular route drivers.
At the first contract negotiation meeting in September, management proposed 270 changes to the previous contract. Rather than bargain over terms, in October management called in a concilliator; with the concilliator present, the two sides met just twice in December and four times in January.
“Let me be crystal clear: there was absolutely no bargaining taking place at any of these dates,” says Wilson. “This employer never came to the table to bargain; they came to the table with one mandate only---to take from us.”
Wilson uses as an example a conflict over ferry operations. “There was something that the employer wanted, and there was something that I wanted,” says Wilson. “And I said, ‘OK, what are you prepared to offer?’ And all of a sudden they threw their pens down and said, ‘We’re not here to offer nothing.’ I looked at the concilliator and said, ‘This is not bargaining; this is demanding.’”
The concilliator’s report is not public record, and Wilson will not divulge its contents, but other union members have told The Coast it’s highly critical of the city.
The union made a counter offer last week, which was rejected by the city, and so Wilson had no choice but to take the city’s offer to membership for a vote.
Wilson is not surprised at the lopsided vote to reject the offer. “My people are extremely offended,” he says. “This employer has basically slapped their employees in the face with this offer.”
After the vote, the city issued a press release saying it was “disappointed” at the outcome. “We put forward a contract package, inclusive of wage increases, that would allow us to build a sustainable, reliable transit service for the future,” says Metro Transit manager Eddie Robar in the release.