About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2014

VIDEO - The Lockout From the Union POV

The mood outside city hall at 1 Carden Street was oddly cordial. No one was shouting words of scorn at the drivers, not one was playing the blame game, and the general public - whether they be walking or driving by - offered words, or honks, of support. That's life in the cat bird seat. Even though it was their vote to reject the city's offer that sparked the lockout, the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1189 seem to be holding the high ground. But as the anger settles, and people start to seriously ask the question, why the heck did the union reject the deal in the first place?
I ventured down to the picket line at city hall today to see where the divide between worker and management lie. Long answer short: it's not about the money. Many union members said that the money being offered was fine, it was more so yes they'll take it, but what they really wanted a deal on was working conditions. What does that mean? Well, the transit is still missing that lunchroom the city promised when they designed Guelph Central Station. The current lunch facilities are, according to ATU 1189 President Andrew Cleary, a 9 minute walk to and from the station, leaving about 12 minutes for drivers to scarf down lunch.
What else? They don't like the unisex washrooms at GCS. The maintenance crew thinks they've been overlooked in the negotiations, responsible for a fleet of buses and put under enormous pressure to keep them running to meet the city's increased demand but not increased support. There's also still some hard feelings. Yes, there was all that stuff we said when the routes changed almost three years ago, but they're also still stinging from taking the blame for that overtime controversy, especially when much of that overtime has because of city mandated provisions like the late night bus service. 
Most interestingly though, I was told that the union might have accepted a one year extension of the current contract if it meant that the city would keep negotiating with them about the finer points of their demands concerning working conditions. So any which way you slice it, the ball is in the city's court as union members say they're ready, willing and able to work. Now. If only the City of Guelph will take the locks off and come back to the bargaining table. 
Here's the Guelph Polideo I shot today: 

In the meantime, if you're stuck for a way of getting around, use Twitter and the hashtag #GuelphCarpool to see if someone's going your way. There's also a Facebook page as well if that's your social media platform of choice. Sit tight folks, this one looks like it might go long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that you took the time to speak in some depth with transit drivers and share the information you collected in your video with everyone. It’s the first bit of news I’ve seen that goes into some depth and it’s welcome detail indeed as I try to comprehend what is going on.
Next, you could attempt to get answers from city staff or management! Nothing I've watched or read seems to tell me WHY they are locking out their workers rather than continuing to bargain with them, especially when the union has not taken a vote in favour of strike action. Taxpayers pay the salaries for city managers and staff and both councillors and citizens have the right to expect answers about this ridiculous decision to lock out workers. Without a reasonable response that is not full of rhetoric and devoid of the most basic detail, we are left to assume that the city has decided to suspend service, blame it on their employees, take their summer holidays and then happily balance their budget after they recoup the $1M+ loss they suffered in the last year due to their own scheduling and poor management.
Of course, I believe the city will suddenly have a desire to negotiate again – I predict this will happen in late August – in order to avoid losing the huge amount of money that each full time university student pays to support the bus system.
All this drama by city managers to save a few bucks on the backs of those who can ill afford the lack of service and who don’t have the power to fight. I am disgusted that the managers I pay aren't at the bargaining table. I say, "Get back to the table, it's your job." It may be tough work for the city managers, but as I seem to recall, their remuneration reflects the effort.