This morning, I sent an e-mail to all 13 members of city council, as well as Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert and Director of Corporate and Human Resources Mark Amorosi asking them to respond to two simple questions: Why is the lockout necessary, and what are you going to do to make sure that everyone who needs the transit system to go about their daily affairs will experience the minimum of inconvenience? As each individual responds, I will update this post.
Karen Farbridge, Mayor
I am extremely disappointed that the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union rejected the tentative agreement that was reached by the City and ATU bargaining teams. There is no doubt this service disruption will cause a lot of hardship for the many people who rely on transit.
A statement from the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, which can be found here, provides information on the “why.” Further information and updates can be found at guelph.ca/transit.
Leanne Piper, Ward 5 Councillor
After 18 months of negotiations, there comes a point when talks are not productive. The city is in lockout position and ATU is in strike position. ATU members rejected the contract negotiated between the City and the ATU executive. Going back to re-negotiate a contract that the ATU Exec and the City agreed to already can't happen without knowing why the membership rejected it. We can't afford to go with a ratified contract indefinitely. For me it really comes down to a lockout now, in the summer when ridership is impacted to a lesser degree, or a strike in September when ridership is at its highest. That is not to say that ridership is not affected now, because it is, but September much worse.
First step is to find out what the outstanding issues are? I am talking to drivers (already have). Many issues that I am hearing are OUTSIDE the collective bargaining of the contract. They are about respect and trust between drivers, supervisors, management. You can't build "trust and respect" into a union contract. Contracts are about policy, wages, benefits, protocols, holidays, etc. Trust and respect are about relationships. That is something that will take conscious efforts at all levels. It also means that contract language needs to be spelled out in black and white what every word means -- intent vs. interpretation -- through a memorandum of understanding or similar format.
I am also offering rides (room for 3 passengers) to Ward 5 residents who need to get to work or school campus. One taker so far, two seats still available. Might be possible to do more once I know my car availability. I share my car with three other members of my household/family.
Ian Findlay, Ward 2 Councillor
Councillor Findlay referred me to Ann Pappert for questions concerning the lockout.
Karl Wettstein, Ward 6 Councillor
The CAO and Mayor have both answered your question and have outlined the current status of the negotiations.
There is really nothing that I can add at this time except to reinforce our disappointment over the union memberships rejection of their leaderships recommendation of a very fair and balanced agreement. If there are some administrative issues still to be ironed out our CAO has opened the door to discuss them ASAP.
Todd Dennis, Ward 6 Councillor
Unfortunately, I cannot add anything else to the CAO and Mayor's message on this.
The city has been working diligently for over a year to negotiate a settlement. We've attempted to have a provincially appointed mediator help in the process. We've made several offers, including the last which was ratified and approved by ATU's negotiating team.
We've also included a letter of understanding regarding some management issues which are not even part of the collective bargaining process.
This negotiation must address the needs of the ATU, Transit riders, the city and taxpayers. Our offers have been fair and equitable in addressing all these issues.
If there are other issues, we've left the communication lines open for the union to contact us to discuss. We remained committed to getting a fair contract completed.
June Hofland, Ward 3 Councillor
I believe our CAO has stated publicly that she is open to hearing from the President of the ATU. The door is open for further negotiations. I too am disappointed with this outcome. I hope for a resolution soon as it is critical to the riders of transit.