City Seeking Provincial Conciliator for Transit Contractor

Coming perilously close to being taken out with the trash, came word late Thursday afternoon that the City of Guelph was seeking conciliation from the province as contract negotiations with the employees of Guelph Transit, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189, appear to have come to an impasse.

The ATU 1189 have been working for almost nine months now without a contract, but after looking online I can’t find a comment from the union as to what the outstanding issues might be on their part. As for the city, it seems pretty certain what their issues are.

Last fall, during the controversy about overtime, it was revealed that about one-fifth of the $5 million in additional overtime costs went to Transit alone. I bet city hall’s concerned about the optics of pay raises and other benefits after that, but there may also be more difficult negotiations in regards to the union’s counter argument, that their members are continually being asked to do things outside the bounds of the contract’s definition of regular work hours. Might there be difficulty trying to rectify that on both sides? No one’s really talking about the issues.

Here’s the city’s press release:

GUELPH, ON, March 27, 2014 – The City has requested the assistance of a provincially appointed conciliator to resolve outstanding bargaining matters with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 and move the bargaining process forward.

Since last fall, the City and ATU have met a total of 14 days to negotiate the terms of a new contract for the City’s 205 Guelph Transit employees. Although the discussions to date have been respectful, they have not achieved the progress the City expects.

“Guelph Transit employees play an important role in this organization and provide a vital service to the community”, said David Godwaldt, General Manager of Human Resources. “The City strongly believes in competitively compensating these employees for their work and remains committed to negotiating a fair contract that balances such compensation with long-term affordability for Guelph taxpayers.”

The City looks forward to continuing negotiations with the ATU with the help of a conciliator to reach a mutually beneficial agreement in a timely manner.

“We recognize how vital a reliable and affordable transit system is to our community—and we value the men and women who deliver this service each and every day,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “We are hopeful that with the assistance of a conciliator, we will avoid a labour disruption that would have serious impacts on the thousands of people in our community who rely on transit to access employment, education, medical appointments and more.”

For more information about the collective bargaining process and the previous contract agreement between the City and ATU Local 1189, visit guelph.ca/atu..

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