How many of you woke up this morning, left home, started making your way to wherever you were going on foot or bike, and then you saw it: a Guelph Transit bus. Even though many of the service interruption signs were still up this morning, the buses were back on the road as if nothing had ever happened on the weekend; the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 made an after-the-last-minute deal to keep the service running. After a marathon negotiation session Sunday, a tentative agreement was reached, and tonight, city council did it's part by ratifying said agreement on their end.
Confirmed by the city's communications department a short time ago, council has indeed ratified the agreement reached Sunday night with the help of a provincial conciliator. Next, the union will vote on the agreement on their end, in a vote that's scheduled now for the evening of Sunday July
"The members of ATU Local 1189 have wanted to continue to serve Guelph’s transit riders," said ATU Local 1189 President Andy Cleary in a city statement Sunday night. "For many Guelph residents we are their sole source of transportation, and we look forward to continuing to support our community."
The contents of the deal will not be disclosed until the union ratifies the agreement, but the city's offer of a six per cent raise over four years was voted down by 94 per cent of the union's membership Friday. Apparently though, the union's issues had more to do with working conditions than money.
"What will come forward to council is certainly within the mandate in which they set," Mayor Karen Farbridge told the Guelph Mercury earlier today. "That's as much as I'm prepared to say, because I respect the process and I don't want to say any more about the details until the members of ATU get an opportunity to see them and understand them, and come to a vote on whether they are going to accept it or not."
According to Farbridge and Mark Amorosi, Guelph's executive director of corporate and human resources, the city and the union were committed to working "all day and all night" to reach a deal and avoid any service interruption that would force 20,000 people in Guelph to find an alternative means of getting around.
"We have shared interests for the community, and we have shared interests for our employees," Amorosi told the Mercury. "At the end of the day, nobody wants to see this kind of thing happen. Despite the fact that these have been very difficult negotiations those things don't change in terms of our shared interests."
It's a shame no one realized that Friday night, or at any point in the last 12 months. A lot of people in Guelph might not have been rung through the ringer for 48 hours this past weekend.