Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
11:20 AM EDT
2014-01-13 at 15:19

Deadline approaches

International Amalgamated Transit Union vice-president Larry Kinnear is advising city workers to strike if negotiations are not proceeding by Jan. 20.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
International Amalgamated Transit Union vice-president Larry Kinnear is advising city workers to strike if negotiations are not proceeding by Jan. 20.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

City buses might be indefinitely parked next week.

If workers aren’t satisfied with the results of negotiations with the city, a top North American transit union official suggests they hit the picket lines.

“At the end of the day, and I think the end of the day will be noon on Saturday, if we haven’t got an agreement we can recommend to our members we will recommend we take job action,” said International Amalgamated Transit Union vice-president Larry Kinnear at a news conference Monday morning.

“I would suggest we take full job action as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday.”

That mean no transit services whatsoever Monday morning.

The local 966 of the ATU will find themselves in a legal strike position on Jan. 20 and held their news conference with high-ranking union officials at the Airlane Hotel to affirm their position.

Local union president Sheila Kivisto confirmed that about 160 members are prepared for job action.

“We are ready to go,” Kivisto said. “I’d like to be optimistic in thinking that they would come with something to the table but we are ready to stand up for what we think is fair.”

The two sides are scheduled to hold conciliation meetings ahead of the deadline on Thursday and Friday of this week.

Members of the union have been working without a contract since the most recent agreement expired in June 2012.

Ontario ATU and Toronto local 113 president Bob Kinnear said the onus is on the elected officials in city hall to focus on making a deal happen.

“We know that the negotiating committee at the bargaining table are not making the decisions,” he said. “They’re just simply the puppets of city councillors and it’s time councillors start pulling some of those strings.”

The transit union plans to do everything possible to avoid service disruption but the city needs to do the same, Kivisto added.

Larry Kinnear, who lends assistance in similar disputes across Ontario, said the arrangement in which services have continued to be provided without a contract is unusual.

“They seem to take a lackadaisical attitude towards negotiations,” he said of the city’s stance.

“I can assure you that of all my contracts in the province of Ontario, no membership waits 18 months to try to get an agreement. They’ll take action prior to that.”

Kivisto and the visiting union officials repeatedly said Thunder Bay transit workers are the second-lowest compensated in the province, trailing only the 28 members of Cornwall.

According to Bob Kinnear, the eye care benefit package is one particular point of contention for workers. He said workers are entitled to $150 for eyewear on a biannual basis.

“That’s deplorable,” he said.

“I would suggest the people of Thunder Bay would want their transit operators or their employer to ensure transit operators have the things they need like proper eyewear. I don’t want my bus driver driving a bus with improper eyewear.”

Local workers voted 99 per cent in favour of job action in October.

The head of the provincial transit union said in the event of a strike, workers will have access to enough resources to make it last. He warned the job action threat is made knowing the workers are ready to stand up as long as it takes.

“When we prepare for a strike we’re not talking about a week or two,” Bob Kinnear said. “We’ll be prepared to be out there for months if necessary.”

Officials with the City of Thunder Bay were unable to provide comment when contacted by tbnewswatch.com Monday afternoon.

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can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
There needs to be some hard line changes in the way wage increases are decided. I'm all for transit employees getting a fair wage that's comparable to similar Ontario cities with the same population in general and economy such as Sudbury or Sault Ste.Marie maybe. Then once a standard is set in place 1.5-3 percent should be roughly the normal increase depending on cost of living increases. Also how about longer contract so and ones that are settled on time so it doesn't seem like every year and a half this issue is brought up.
1/14/2014 1:49:39 PM
loring says:
i dont mind my taxes going up for higher wages for a job that you can build a family around
buy a house etc.i wish you guys all the best
and labour peace.
1/14/2014 8:28:51 AM
xxxxx says:
Really? One of the pressing issues is eyewear allowance? Give them their glasses and send them on their way.
I'm guessing the union has a few more demands that don't play so well in the papers - like an exorbitant wage increase perhaps.
Maybe Mr. Kinnear should go after some dental benefits.
1/14/2014 12:48:01 AM
S Duncan says:
Why should taxpayers pay for their eyeglasses? My tax dollars are for services rendered, not welfare for union employees.

but that's all they are is welfare receipients that show up to get their checks.
1/15/2014 9:01:44 AM
fastball says:
God, I'm so sick of taxpayers like you...that stand there, shaking their canes and yelling "I pay your wages!!! I pay this, I pay that!". We ALL pay taxes - I just as much as you - except that I don't whine and cry and demand that other people have to accept some arbitrary crap standard of living that YOU want to impose on them...all because you "pay taxes".
Just like you tell people to go someplace else if you want a better-paying job - why don't you move someplace else where your all-important taxes aren't so high that you feel compelled to shoot everything down for the rest of us.
You're the bully here - throwing your change purse around here, like you own the whole place and everybody in it...just because you happen to be one of the tens of thousands of people in town that pay taxes.
1/15/2014 2:42:38 PM
mcnews says:
@fastball Whoa! You have an optical package? Where do I sign up for such a job?
1/14/2014 12:38:01 AM
can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
We need to support the progression and security of now hard to find decent paying blue collar jobs such as the ones transit offers. Who knows one day you, your child or someone you know might benefit from a well paying stable job that these employees are making a stand for. We need more middle class blue collar jobs. That's what built this country and they seem to be few and far between now a days. No excessive wages just fair ones.
1/14/2014 5:18:15 PM
fastball says:
You don't "sign up" for a job with some benefits. You LOOK for one.
And if you're lucky and smart, you can be just like me - a guy who makes the just about national average in wages...and get a few hundred dollars off glasses every two years.
1/15/2014 9:49:49 AM
jo123anne says:
No contract since June 2012? That is a year and a half - absolutely deplorable on the city's part. Come on Mr. Mayor & councillors - get this thing settled!
1/14/2014 12:24:45 AM
nvjgu says:
So what, there empty for the most part. This town is small enuff to walk anywhere you would want to go. How do I know, I have done it.
1/13/2014 5:47:35 PM
Baor says:
Was that before or after "almost crashing your bike" on every pothole you come across?
1/13/2014 6:32:24 PM
whatelseisnew says:
...really? So you're meaning to tell me that you've walked from the corner of Strathcona to Gore and James Street before? I don't buy it; not unless you were 15 on a nice summer night on something. You name a place we can meet, I will drive you to said areas and will be happy to follow you in my car while I time it. OH, and if you'd rather bike it that's fine by me too but all I can say is have fun in the bike/snow bank lane! The reason why this town is the way it is, is because people like you.
1/13/2014 8:51:59 PM
can't-we-all-get-along-lol says:
I have been riding the bus for a very long time and just like everywhere else in the planet there are rush hour times in the morning, lunch time and evening. These buses are all packed like sardine cans during these times. Your lucky to be able to fit in them at times.
1/14/2014 1:57:12 PM
fastball says:
I'm a unionized worker. My employer is a Board - which is municipally funded. Our contracts have to fall within the same ballpark as other groups working for the city. The City signs off on our contracts.
Our optical package is 350-400 dollars every 24 months. It begs the question why the same employers signs off on 400 dollars on one contract - yet is so draconian towards another group.
My sincere best wishes to the transit operators in their drive for fairness.
1/13/2014 4:40:14 PM
yqtyqt says:
"My sincere best wishes to the transit operators in their drive for fairness". It would depend on the measure of fairness.

But the burning question I have is do you care about fairness to taxpayers & ratepayers? Or do you even care?
1/14/2014 10:04:42 AM
yqtyqt says:
Then I guess the lines are drawn in the sand.

Lets wait them out because they won't suffer due to the "warchest" that awaits them.

Good luck getting an agreement when its the dead cold of winter.
1/13/2014 4:38:37 PM
fastball says:
As opposed to the summertime - when there's no college, university or other students needing the bus? When it's nice out and people can walk or take a bike?
No - if there's ever a good time to withdraw services, right about now would be the best.
1/13/2014 8:09:22 PM
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