Tbnewswatch Local News
Tuesday July 7 2015
8:06 PM EDT
2014-01-12 at 14:40

'Chance to stand up'

Amalgamated Transit Union local 966 president Sheila Kivisto.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Amalgamated Transit Union local 966 president Sheila Kivisto.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

Thunder Bay Transit workers are just more than a week away from being in a legal strike position.

Local 966 of the Amalgamated Transit Union held a meeting on Sunday afternoon to brief their membership and give them an opportunity to ask questions of senior officials as they approach the Jan. 20 deadline that would allow them to take action.

Local president Sheila Kivisto told local media before the meeting that any job action would be a last resort, but would be pursued if deemed necessary.

We’re going to do the best we can do to try and push to get some kind of negotiation happening or a deal, but if we have to do some sort of a job-action then it’s going to have to happen,” Kivisto said.

“We’re trying to get fair. This is our chance to stand up and get fair in Ontario, that type of earnings we should be getting.”

Attempting to ensure that transit riders are not affected is a significant concern, she added.

Union officials are scheduled to hold pre-conciliation talks with the city on Thursday and Friday of this coming week.

The approximately 160 members, which includes operators, mechanics, service crews and lift plus drivers have been working without a contract since June 2012.

A media release from the transit union last week claims the Thunder Bay workers are the second-lowest paid in the province.

Joining Kivisto for the afternoon meeting was ATU Ontario president Bob Kinnear to provide perspective and experience

Kivisto admitted this was new territory for her, and having a veteran of labour disputes can help the local union determine how to proceed.

“It’s so valuable to talk to them and get ideas of what we can potentially do, what we shouldn’t do and that kind of thing,” Kivisto said.

“This is unprecedented for them to be coming up. This is breaking ground to get the support we’re going to see where it takes us and how it helps us.”

The transit union is scheduled to hold a media conference at the Airlane Hotel on Monday at 10 a.m. where they will provide details for their next move.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
petpals says:
Well obviously can't-we-all-get-along when you work til 9 pm and the bus is due at the stop you need at 9:08 pm and you have an 8 minute walk to that stop....(because the buses that you need quits running through Intercity mall at 5:25) it makes it hard to be there 5 minutes early,or to have the bus blow past you 10 min early as you are rushing to get to the stop. Now your 45 min wait for the next bus has turned into an hour.
1/15/2014 10:03:40 PM
petpals says:
I have to agree with Blister-foot. The bus service in this really sucks. I think that if one is not happy making between $18.00 and $22.00 an hour they should quit their job and work at a place that gives them 8 hours a week and pays them $10.25 an hour and see how far they get.
1/14/2014 4:00:19 PM
can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
I don't think the service sucks at all. it's not more convenient then a personal vehicle for sure but way cheaper. People now a days think everything should run perfect to their schedule at all times and that's just not realistic. The transit service isn't perfect but quite reliable. Use your heads and get to that stop 5 min early and you will have no problem, don't rely on the next bus system and try to walk out your door the second it says it should arrive. Also if you don't like the transit system go get a cab, 5 bucks just to sit in the seat!
1/14/2014 4:32:59 PM
can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
I have noticed in many of these comments that it seems as though many of you are assuming that these transit workers want to be at parr with Toronto wages. Did anyone actually see any proof of this or do they seek a more realistic / deserved wage as say similar Ontario city such as Sudbury? I would be interested to know Sudbury's wages and or Sault Ste. Marie who has a population much less then TBays.
1/14/2014 1:13:11 PM
tiredofit says:
I found Sudbury's wages online: $20.92 - $24.16 hour with 5 6-12 month steps in-between.
1/14/2014 2:38:35 PM
can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
That seems like a reasonable salary for a job with the requirements such as transit operator, but anything more then that besides a percent or two on every new contract seems a little greedy. Along with every other job, we need a common ground for each job for every sized city and end it there with small increases with cost of living.
1/14/2014 5:03:52 PM
timeforchange says:
If you are going to provide wage increases for some city employees, then should not the wage increase apply to all of them or do we think some are more "special" than others.

Cops get increase upon increase. Then the fireman get it automatically. It is shocking that fire just have to say, look what the cops got and they receive it also.

So if the cops are handed the cash drawer, then the city needs to make sure that the other cash drawer has enough for the rest of the employees.

it means a tax increase but if I were a driver, or CUPE worker I would be screaming at the % increase given to fire and police over the last decade versus what these groups have received.

Start by pointing the finger at the Boards/City that give these wages willingly to the cops and fire.

Go get your money transit workers. You deserve it as much as those other groups.
1/13/2014 4:29:31 PM
Tiredofit says:
And this is why our taxes are so bloody high. Its give give give... Sorry, live like the rest of us, when the city can afford to reduce my taxes then you can have your increases. That's called being fair to the people who pay your wages. Simple concept huh? I can't afford anymore tax increases, enough is enough.
1/13/2014 6:13:27 PM
timeforchange says:
I believe you missed my point. I am only justifying a wage increase because the same city gave it to others. If they want to hold the line. Hold it for everyone. Do not make first and second tier employees.

If the cops and fire got X %, then all employees can get that. Seems fair to me.

But that does not mean I am supporting it. I too agree that taxes are too high and spending is crazy in this city. In the last election we put into office a Mayor who was going to save taxes and reduce crime.

Decide for yourselves if this is what is happening in Thunder Bay.
1/14/2014 12:05:20 AM
yqtyqt says:
Well I do get your point. Passing these increases on via taxes & user fees must occur when the city just opens its "cash drawers" to its so called public servants.

Look, it all starts at the top. The CAO, the heads of the large departments, the managers, cops, firefighters need to push away from the table & say that we're willing to forego increases for a while. They won't starve, I assure you.

The rest of the staff should understand that they are being treated "fairly & equally" in comparison to the sunset listed employees.

But to be fair, those at the lower end need something to offset the rising cost of living.

My pension went up marginally with CPI. I would suggest that those near the bottom get a similar CPI adjustment and the well-paid be frozen.

Premiere Wynne has the ability to put a halt to these increases. Its too bad she doesn't have the backbone to match. Instead she chooses to feed the already "fat cat" civil servants who in turn feed her re-election.
1/14/2014 9:48:08 AM
fastball says:
I don't think giving workers a 1.5 percent a year pay raise is why our taxes are so bloody high.
The biggest reason they're so high is two words. Urban sprawl. Our city is MEGA-SIZED in area - and we run services out to the edges of that area. The amount of tax dollars the city gets from the few dozen residents on X Road is probably never going to break even the cost of maintaining paved roads, providing water and other municipal utilities and services to what used to be rural areas. We don't have a traditional city centre, with the densest population - we have a loose network of neighbourhoods, connected by lengths of unproductive roadway that just bleed tax dollars.
I'd respectfully put forth that urban sprawl is the main factor of our bloody taxes being so high...not some guys getting 25 cents a year more on their wage.
1/17/2014 6:59:05 PM
Blister-foot says:
Pfft! The service is SO bad, I don't think a strike would be that noticeable.
I depend on transit to get to work...and have been written up a few times for being late due to buses not showing up when scheduled.
One more time and I'm fired....so it's come down to paying $20 for a cab each shift, as I have no more faith in this awful system!
You'd assume a "city" with such long/cold winters would have a great service that ran 24/7.
BTW...where did all the cash from the fare increase go???
1/13/2014 2:13:34 PM
fastball says:
I've taken the bus to and from work, by choice, for over 25 years.
I can't even remember the number of times that I've been late to work - through a fault other than my own, that is.
Find out when the bus comes to the stop, get there 5 minutes early - and 99 times out of 100, you'll be fine. But realistically, you have to cut them some slack sometimes - there's weather conditions to consider, the traffic, construction, the odd mechanical issue and occasionally lots of stops to make. So it's not as if they're machines. But as for being late to work or "buses never showing up"...maybe the fault lies somewhere else.
1/14/2014 6:45:11 PM
Loudmouth101 says:
What has the transit union membership invested into this...it's not their buses, it's not their fuel, they don't pay the insurance, they don't pay the repairs...yet they want more! Give them partity with the school bus drivers and not a penny more.
1/13/2014 1:17:43 PM
fastball says:
Really? Please tell me you're joking - otherwise, the only alternative is....wow.
Let me get this straight, OK? Because the union members don't actually OWN the buses they drive, nor pay for the fuel out of their own pocket, then they have no right to ask for a new contract?? That's your position?
And airline pilots should own their own 747's?
Honest to god...that's probably the stupidest thing I've ever read here.
1/13/2014 3:29:05 PM
Northofnipigon says:
One of my beefs is that we are comparing wage rates with other communities in the rest of the province. All this comparing between various communities ratches up the wages, no one wants to be the lowest paid driver, well some drivers have to be the lowest paid drivers, otherwise let's do away with all of these negoatiations, centralize everything and accept that there will be losers and winners. The second issue, is that a community (we taxpayers) ability to pay should be one of the main factors being considered. These two issues have brought crazy scenarios with police and firefighters and that's plain wrong. If the wages aren't attractive enough, people can move on and then it becomes a recruitment issue if those positions remain unfilled, but that's not what we've seen in the past with any of these public sector positions.
1/13/2014 12:44:16 PM
yqtyqt says:
My first thought is that I have little sympathy for govt workers in general and less sympathy for the union leaders specifically.

But on second thought, if we examine the wage scales of all govt servants, I can see what the problem is.

Milk, bread, always increasing utilities rates, transportation (including transit fares), post secondary education costs, prescription drugs, taxes, etc., then I can see the need for an increase. It costs the same in absolute dollars for each family.

So we need a solution to stop this upward spiral of increasing govt costs. How about freezing public sector wages for 5 years for those above $100,000, for 3 years for those above $60,000, and allow a modest graduated increase for other public sector employees.

This race to the taxpayers trough has to stop. Govts at all levels have to tighten up. But they`re all running scared of the unions.

Govts should lead the way in diminishing union powers. Its killing growth. We've hand fed them too long
1/13/2014 9:06:35 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
So that works out to about $45G/year plus benefits. You are driving a bus. What do you think you should earn? Why isn't that posted? And just because you did the job for 20 years...big deal! Are you special because of that? Come on!
1/13/2014 9:01:59 AM
fastball says:
What should they earn? Maybe getting the same wage as someone doing the exact same job sounds fair to me.
Your tone sounds like they should be grateful for being the lowest paid drivers in the province. All they're asking for is some fairness.
1/13/2014 1:02:26 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Transit Union....City Hall's ONLY whipping boy for "austerity".
1/13/2014 8:47:27 AM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
The only whiners are those against the union standing up for a comparative wage. Why don't they ever whine when senior managers or administrators take large, so called industry standard wage increases? Solidarity.
1/13/2014 5:52:46 AM
tiredofit says:
Thats all and good, but if your going to do a comparative wage, then you need to factor in the comparative cost of living in that city vs. Thunder Bay. The wages that Dynamiter listed, when factored in with the benefits is a good wage for this town, especially given the educational requirements for the position. $22.72 hr is a hell of lot better than the current minimum wage, in fact it's more than double.

Of course the wages in larger towns such as Toronto, London etc.. are going to be a little hire (someone please post what they are so we can compare), it's a higher cost of living. A $150k house here will cost 2-3 times that in Toronto, no one is questioning that, but let's get real on the comparison. I work in the private sector and when the employer can afford it, he gives me a raise, I get semi decent benefits (better than none) and a fair wage for this city. I'm very comfortable with it, however if I was in Toronto, I'd be starving.

Raise this, raise our taxes.. AGAIN!
1/13/2014 12:47:54 PM
dynamiter says:
A wage increase is probably in order-

As of July 1, 2011, an operator trainee will be paid hourly at 60% of the starting Operator’s rate (1 st 6 months) during the training program. If successful in the training program, Transit Operators are paid:
Step 1 (1st 6 Months): $18.18 per hour
Step 2 (2nd 6 Months): $20.45 per hour
Step 3 (Full-time rate): $22.72 per hour (maximum)

Thunder Bay Transit offers a competitive total compensation package when a Relief Operator attains the position of full-time Operator that includes the following:

Extended Health and Dental
Short and Long Term Disability
Life Insurance
Retirement Savings Plan, with employer matching contributions
Membership in the Amalgamated Transit Union (required - Union dues are deducted bi-weekly)
Paid vacation based on years of service
All benefits are subject to established waiting periods as per the current Collective Agreement.

I dont think these wages or benefits are excessive. Look at staff, staffing and manning.
1/13/2014 1:12:03 AM
concernedone says:
nvjgu...do the job for 20 years or so.Day in and day out it's a lot more than just driving. And, by the way, driving is enough to warrant a rate of pay comparable to other cities in Ontario.
What do non-union people do? Do they just accept what is given to them or do they strive for more and ask for more? If they want more or ask for more then they too are whining.
1/12/2014 11:34:27 PM
tsb says:
It isn't necessarily always this way, but the issue with being non-union is that when we do ask, it is easier for us to simply be denied a raise ("can't afford it"), and the lack of organization means that we're asking (or not asking) on a one-by-one basis as opposed to a group, so we have less (ie, no) leverage to actually force management to give us a raise.

That said, the wages often aren't too bad. It's the benefits side of things that non-union jobs are lacking.
1/13/2014 7:19:27 AM
back-in-the-bay says:
I agree with the notion that non-unionized workers have the right to ask for more from their employer, however, they do not have the ability to strangle hold their employer with strike action. In this case, specifically, why should trasit workers be enabled to hold hostage the very citizens that are already forced to subsidize their wage. I'm all for public/publically supported transportation, I get the need, but everyone is being squeezed tighter and tighter, but no more so firmly than by the unionized worker. If you're non-union and ask for more and your employer says no, you can find other work or continue to work for the same. Unions simply force their will onto everyone, their members themselves too. I say they should absolutely strike, and stay out as long as possilbe, it'll save plenty in this last quarter for the city. Union mentality is to be a taker when it should be to be an earner.
1/13/2014 10:00:10 AM
fastball says:
Seems to me, if anyone's "imposing their will" it's the City that's imposing their will. They haven't bargained in any kind of good faith, it sounds like. They've just insisted the the drivers continue to work - despite an expired contract for the last 18 months. What kind of company does that?
1/14/2014 7:01:07 PM
whatelseisnew says:
I hope they strike! I'm sick and tired of watching council nickel and dime everyone they can take advantage of. if it wasn't for the union who else would make sure they receive decent pay; it sure wouldn't be the city or the government. If they had it their way no one except upper management would make a cent over $14 an hour. Why should people have to work 2+ jobs just to make a decent income?

I support the unions decision 100%. Those that don't are jealous they aren't with a union or are management...and that's the truth!
1/12/2014 9:27:54 PM
supersavage says:
Good job workers. Stand together. Hopefully you will get the wage you deserve. Unions seems to be the only ones standing up for workers these days. I don't think Tim Commisso does !
1/12/2014 7:07:38 PM
nvjgu says:
Sheila Kivisto. And what is your Idea of a good deal for driving a lousy bus that's empty for the most part. All you need is a drivers licence. You people are getting enuff for what you do.
1/12/2014 6:42:22 PM
Reignmaker says:
"...driving a lousy bus that's empty for the most part."

So you clearly do not ride the bus if you are going to make a statement like that. Thanks for speaking out against things you don't have the slightest idea about.
1/13/2014 9:21:29 AM
Back-in-the-bay says:
Nothing like the union cry babies once again trying to take with both hands at the trough. This already overly tax payer subsidized system should simply be put to the test of actual need and usage. With the exception of LIFT drivers and support, the former hagi, who shouldn't even be allowed to strike as they should be essential service, the rest should be left to contemplate their actual good reality from the picket line for as long as possible. Maybe we'll recoup some of that snow removal deficit we've heard so much about. Unions? Ridiculous!
1/12/2014 6:02:18 PM
Decide says:
So let me get this straight: Years and years ago, when workers were paid next to nothing, sometimes forced into indentured servitude, had no rights, and unions were created and applauded as bringing forth those rights and decent pay, all was good. Now, with for the most part, good pay all around, unions are bad.
I laugh at people like you who seem to have no problem with executives making 250-1000 times the average worker, and union or public service sector get from 45-90k a year. Funny. The money these "over paid no skilled humps" make GOES RIGHT BACK INTO THE ECONOMY.
Why do I even bother trying to make sense on this site....too many narrow minded and uneducated people here.
1/13/2014 5:21:16 PM
Back-in-the-bay says:
It's unfortunate that you deduce my opinion is rooted in the uneducated. Quite simply, it is not. To speak from an educated standpoint, you'd have to flash forward to the 21 st century. While the union mentality had its place in history, today it does little but inflate the base cost of commerce which is passed directly onto the general public. You said it yourself 'years and years ago...', that original mantra was rooted in workplace safety and job protection. Now, it's about minimal performance for maximum pay and enabling the lazy and unwilling to hold positions right to full retirement while hundreds of thousands of skilled workers are left unemployed. Those who understand economics understand very well what a mess this has made for the Canadian economy. And as far as these supposed working humps dumping all their wages back into the economy is good? That's just plain funny from any economist's perspective. Unions? Ridiculous!
1/13/2014 5:49:21 PM
Decide says:
I'll give you credit for pointing out the part about protecting the lazy worker...it is true. My point was about how quickly people forget what unions did in the past. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge union fan, but the constant attack against decent wages makes my blood boil.
As for economists etc, who cares what they, or you if you are one for that matter, think? It is economists and their ilk that got us into the last recession. Being an economist, like being a businessman/woman, doesn't mean crap except for the bottom line. That's like stating "we'll let the market decide".
Putting decent wages back into the economy works. It's the trend of paying people crap that is keeping us in a recession. No money earned means no money spent. Don't need to be an economist to know that. To emphasize your point as being wrong, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
1/13/2014 10:41:57 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In