After 2 years of talks and the longest work disruption in Canadian transit history, the ATU chose to pull the offered concession off the table recently.
Now to be fair prior to this there was a “handshake deal” that was subsequently voted down by council and an “offer” that was withdrawn by the council as well. In fact at one point the council was offering 3.5% increases per year while recent discussions have all revolved around 2.5% or less.
The real truth in this tale is that it should come as no surprise that the union did pull the concessions offered. But even farther then that in my mind it is a great thing.
Over recent months, even preceding the lockout, the talks have been getting increasingly contentious and with the lockout, they are getting even more contentious and even citizens are getting involved (on both sides and even neutrally).
I believe the proof that shows how far we have fallen was the fact that for the past three council sessions there has been a police presence just outside council chambers and that last council session they were even inside to escort a union leader and a disabled presenter from the chambers. While they were told by the mayor not to remove them, and it appears that they may not have. The fact that they were even inside the council chambers (or that it was believed they might be needed) shows just how contentious this issue has become.
This means that in my mind there needs to be a complete change in direction in these talks.
- Buses need to be returned to the roads with a guarantee that by both the union and the city that they will not be removed again before the end of the next contract.
- Both sides need to take a 2 month breather to allow tempers to cool.
- Start the discussion fresh with no use of prior discussions as starting points.
- Look at other contracts signed by the city, what cost savings per employee was gained by those contracts. This is the accepted cost savings per employee that can reasonably be expected from ATU.
- After the 2 month breather/cooling off period negotiate at minimum once per week and preferably at least 2 days per week.
We have no choice but to start over as it has become quite clear that the union and the city are nowhere near the same page.
We need to be reasonable and have serious intent to settle and that can only be done if there is not the threat of the passengers stranded to interfere with the discussions.
The present course by both the union and the city are of no value to the city or the citizens who live here and the fact that we as a city have no transit is going to rapidly turn this city into the butt of everyone else’s joke. We can do better than what we have seen and it is high time that we start to demonstrate that.