Union considers offer in Ontario transit strike

One union reviews new offer, other union returns to bargaining table

One of the unions involved in the York Region transit strike will consider a new proposal from one management company, possibly sending 220 of the picketers back to work.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 received a proposal from Veolia on Dec. 20, but the union hasn’t yet decided how to proceed.

"The bargaining committee will be taking a close look at Veolia's proposal as soon as possible and will decide whether to respond with a counter proposal or take it directly to the membership," says ATU Local 113 president Bob Kinnear.

Kinnear says he will be watching what happens in Dec. 21 negotiations between ATU Local 1587 and its employers, Miller Transit and First Student.

"The three contractors are definitely talking with one another so it should be no surprise that the unions are talking as well,” says Kinnear. “We're in this together even though there are three different contracts."

The union says it will not publicly discuss the offer until a decision has been made about taking it to its membership.

The main issues at the centre of the dispute for both unions are wages and benefits, including how much employees should pay for their own health-care package.

Earlier this week, York Region filed an injunction against the unions saying the striking workers were participating in “unlawful picketing.” The action was necessary to ease the effect workers are having on the remaining 40 per cent of YRT routes still in operation, the region said, adding that it recognizes the workers’ right to picket during the strike, but “illegal blockages by picketers have created unsafe conditions for transit users, motorists and pedestrians.”

The injunction is expected to be heard on Dec. 28.

About 220 employees represented by ATU 113 are affected by the walkout, along with 340 drivers from ATU Local 1587, who operate YRT buses for Miller Transit and First Canada. The York Region Transit strike affects bus routes operated by companies contracted to supply service to Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. A number of routes are also affected in northern York Region.

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