Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Thunder Bay Transit workers will be in a legal strike position come as of Jan. 20.
Sheila Kivisto, president of local 966 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said she got the official word just before Christmas, adding walking off the job is the worst-case scenario, and will only be undertaken if city officials refuse to return to the bargaining table.
Kovisto said workers are seeking wages that would put them on par with bus drivers in both Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, though couldn’t say how much of a percentage increase they’re looking at.
“We’re looking at trying to get some meeting dates with the city,” she said. “The conciliation officer has to be here as well. We’re looking at trying to get that all set up the week prior to (the deadline), trying to hash out some negotiations at the last minute prior to doing something drastic.”
Transit workers have been without a contract since June 2012.
“We need to get this done. This has been too long and I’d rather see it get done. What we’re looking for is fair. I’m not looking for the moon and the sun. I just want fair to what provincially everyone else is getting.”
Kivisto said she’s not sure if the city is dragging its heels, but the union has tried to set negotiation dates with no success.
“Now push is coming to shove and I think this is going to get some dates, get some movement and get something done. Or then, like I said, the inevitable and maybe a strike has to happen.”
The union is also looking at other potential job actions, though Kivisto said nothing has been finalized at this point.
Reached for comment, Michael Smith, the city’s manager of facilities, fleets and transit services, said the municipality plans to return to the bargaining table within the next 10 days.