The Amalgamated Transit Union's 170 members have threatened job action if a contract with the city isn't reached soon.
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City transit workers are fed up and threatening to go on strike if contract demands aren’t soon met.
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 966 on Sunday voted 99 per cent in favour of job action, which could include walking off the job.
Union president Sheila Kivisto on Tuesday said her members are the second-lowest paid ATU workers in the province, adding the city is being unreasonable in its negotiating tactics. According to the City of Thunder Bay website, transit workers make between $18.18 an hour and $22.72 an hour.
The union has been without a contract for the past 15 months. Enough is enough, she said in an interview with CKPR News.
“Actual negotiations have slowed down,” she said, adding an all-day session has been scheduled with a conciliator on Wednesday.
All she wants for her members is a fair deal.
“That’s what I’ve always wanted, that’s what I’ve always asked for, even when I went in the very first time,” Kivisto said.
“The transit workers, where we fit as operators especially, we’re sitting way lower than what the industry actually is. Because we drive a bus in Thunder Bay or Sault Ste. Marie or Sudbury or wherever, we still drive a bus and we should be paid fairly, keeping in mind how much the average is out there.”
Kivisto said there doesn’t seem to be much reason for optimism as talks continue, though that could change after Wednesday’s meeting with the conciliator, she conceded.
“The optimism hasn’t been there because we’ve been dealing with this for a year.”
She’s taking a wait-and-see approach before announcing any next steps or what the job action might entail.
She understands the impact it might have.
“We are really mindful about making sure the public can get to where they need to go. We have had support from the public and we realize they still have to get places and get to work and school,” Kivisto said.
“We want to keep it in mind to make sure nobody gets disrupted.”
City officials had little to say about the negotiation process.
“The city is working hard to get an agreement and council has been fully updated recently on the negotiations,” city manager Tim Commisso said in an email response.
The union represents about 170 local members.
No strike date has yet been set.
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