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City Votes To Ratify New Agreement With ATU Local 1189

Web posted on July 15, 2014

Guelph City Council votes to ratify agreement with ATU Local 1189

Guelph, ON, July 14, 2014 - Last night, Guelph City Council voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189.

The agreement will be taken before members of ATU Local 1189 for ratification on the evening of Sunday, July 20.

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Guelph, ON, July 13, 2014 In a joint announcement, the City of Guelph and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 are letting the public know they have reached a tentative agreement and the City has called off plans to lock out Guelph Transit employees as of 12:01 a.m., July 14.

Details of the agreement will be released upon ratification by both parties.

"I am happy to announce that Guelph Transit will be serving the people of Guelph as usual tomorrow morning," stated Mayor Karen Farbridge.

"The members of ATU Local 1189 have wanted to continue to serve Guelph's transit riders," said ATU Local 1189 President Andy Cleary. "For many Guelph residents we are their sole source of transportation, and we look forward to continuing to support our community."

A day-long meeting, with the provincially-appointed conciliator in attendance, resulted in the necessary progress to cancel the lockout and keep the buses running for Guelph residents. During the course of the day, better understanding was achieved on the key concerns underlying the breakdown in the relationship between City administration and ATU Local 1189.

"We believe this agreement is a key first step to repairing our relationship with ATU Local 1189 and ensuring that Guelph's residents continue to have the transit service on which they depend," continued Mayor Farbridge.

All Guelph Transit employees are expected to join the rest of their City of Guelph colleagues on Monday, July 14 as the City's regular operations continue unabated.

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Original Article

Guelph, ON, July 14, 2014 On July 11, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 members voted to reject the City of Guelph's final contract offer.

The City believes it has exhausted all traditional negotiation options and, with the support of Guelph City Council, made the difficult decision to lock out the 205 members of ATU Local 1189 and suspend traditional Guelph Transit service as of 12:01 a.m. July 14. Guelph Transit Mobility Service for existing pre-booked medical appointments (for example, dialysis appointments) will continue during the labour disruption.

"We are very disappointed in the result of this vote," said Mayor Karen Farbridge. "The decision to lock out our transit employees was not made lightly. We know this will create enormous hardship for transit riders, for our transit staff and their families, and for our community."

The City is providing a refund to affordable bus pass holders for the rest of July available starting on Tuesday, July 15 at City Hall. Further steps will be taken for all pass holders depending on the duration of the lock out.

Council has been advised by city staff that ATU's combined extra requests and wage parity with Grand River Transit would cost taxpayers 4.6 million dollars over the next three years. That equates to a tax increase of almost 2.3 per cent over three years solely to fund the delivery of transit.

"Council cannot in good conscience contemplate such a financial impact on transit riders and property taxpayers," continued Mayor Farbridge. "Our goal from the beginning has been to reach an agreement that balances fair and competitive compensation with affordability for transit customers and taxpayers."

There is no good time for a service disruption, but City staff chose to make this decision now, when transit ridership is at its lowest, rather than in the fall when ridership goes up by nearly 60 percent.

"It is my sincere hope that our transit employees will take a second look at the City's final offer this weekend it represents a fair and competitive contract for our employees and is respectful of those who pay for the service. We hope to have our community's transit service up and running again as soon as possible," said Mayor Farbridge.

The City's final offer to ATU Local 1189 includes in total a 6.4% wage increase over the four years of the contract, including:
1.7% increase retroactive to July 1, 2013
1.6% increase effective July 1, 2014
1.6% increase effective July 1, 2015
1.5% increase effective July 1, 2016

City staff and council believe that the offer protects all employee benefits and vacation entitlements, which are consistent with those of the City's other unions. The offer is also consistent with agreements that other transit unions in Ontario have negotiated with their municipalities including Sudbury, Brantford and Waterloo Region.

"The ATU requests would require an additional 20 to 30 unionized staff a 10 per cent increase to the number of unionized staff with no improvement to transit service as a result," stated the City's Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert.

The negotiations have included an 18-month process with 22 days of negotiations, including seven with a provincially-appointed conciliator brought in at the City's request.

"Unfortunately, from the outset, we have been met with unexplained and lengthy delays from ATU which signals one of two things: they are unwilling or unable to bargain," continued Pappert

The City's offer of a four-year deal that would add less than one million dollars to the City budget or an approximately 0.5 per cent increase to property taxes over the four years of the agreement.

"We recognize all of this is cold comfort to those who rely on transit in our community," said Pappert. "We have taken the unusual step of providing two days' notice before the lockout begins. This is the maximum amount of notice we can provide, to give transit riders time to seek alternate means of transportation while still maintaining the safety and security of customers, staff, and property."

The City will continue posting negotiation updates at guelph.ca/atu or updates on service disruption, FAQs and transportation alternatives at guelphtransit.ca.


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