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Union keeps transit in forefront of Hamilton’s municipal election campaign

The union representing HSR employees is keeping transit in the spotlight of Hamilton's municipal election campaign, inviting mayoral candidates to be part of a "meet and greet" on Saturday.
The union representing HSR employees is keeping transit in the spotlight of Hamilton's municipal election campaign, inviting mayoral candidates to be part of a "meet and greet" on Saturday. City of Hamilton

The union representing Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) employees wants voters to think about transit when they cast their ballots in next month’s municipal election.

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The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 is hosting a tailgate party ahead of Saturday’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats game and has invited Hamilton’s mayoral candidates to the “meet and greet.”

Union president Eric Tuck says transit will factor heavily into the results on Oct. 22.

He notes that the city’s provincially-funded, $1 billion light rail transit (LRT) line, is a subject “that has divided the community right down the middle.”

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Tuck says the union has taken the position that “whatever type of transit we have, it should be publicly operated.”

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The tailgate party will be held in the parking lot of the ATU hall on King Street, one block from Tim Horton’s Field, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

The ATU says incumbent Fred Eisenberger and Vito Sgro are among the mayoral candidates who plan to attend. Others who had agreed, as of Tuesday morning, include George Rusich, Henry Geissler, Natalie Xian Yi Yan and Ute Schmidt Jones.

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Eisenberger has said that LRT shouldn’t be an election issue since council has already approved it and it is scheduled to start construction next fall.

Sgro insists that the project is not a done deal, adding all that is needed is for a new council to vote in the majority to stop it. He would use the $1 billion to invest in the HSR and improve the system that’s currently in place.