May 10, 2014 9:05 pm

Saskatoon transit union rejects city’s final offer

Contract negotiations between the City of Saskatoon and the union representing some 415 transit workers have reached a stalemate.

File / Global News

SASKATOON – Contract negotiations between the City of Saskatoon and the union representing some 415 transit workers have reached a stalemate.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local No. 615 (ATU 615) rejected the city’s final offer by 94 per cent Friday, with wages and pensions as the biggest points of contention.

City transit workers have been without a contract since the end of 2012.

They are calling for salaries to be negotiated based on the Western Canadian averaging formula.

“With what was offered to us – at the end of four years – we would be at $26.30 an hour, which is essentially two dollars below today’s current Canadian western average,” said Jim Yakubowski, ATU 615 president.

“We’re not looking to be at the top of the western Canadian average; we’re simply asking to be somewhere in the middle.”

These are the wage adjustments that would be applied:

  • Jan. 1, 2013 – 2.50 per cent
  • Jan. 1, 2014 – 2.20 per cent
  • Jan. 1, 2015 – 2.65 per cent
  • Jan.1, 2016 – 2.65 per cent

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The city says these are the same wage adjustments agreed to by eight other civic collective bargaining units. City officials say this will provide a 10.38 per cent wage increase, compounded, over a four-year term.

The western Canadian average is comprised of Winnipeg, Regina and four transit operations in Alta.

“They’ve basically pointed to what they call this western Canadian averages fair. We don’t think it’s relevant, to be quite candid,” said Marno McInnes, the city’s director of human resources.

“Most of our hiring and recruitment is done locally so it’s our local market that’s really relevant and not so much Calgary and Edmonton. To be quite frank, the comparison to Calgary and Edmonton – it’s not fair. These cities are five times our size. They have a different transit system than we have.”

According to the city’s director of transit Bob Howe, ridership was approximately 9.5 million in 2013.

The transit union is the only civic collective bargaining unit that has not signed on to important pension contribution changes, according to the city.

In early April, transit workers voted in favour of a strike.

Both sides have expressed a level of openness when it comes to heading back to the bargaining table, so a strike may not be the next course of action.

Saskatoon Transit is currently operating normally.

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