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'Chance to stand up'

Thunder Bay Transit workers are just more than a week away from being in a legal strike position.
Amalgamated Transit Union local 966 president Sheila Kivisto. (Matt Vis,

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.


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