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Red Deer Transit union members votes overwhelmingly to strike if negotiations with City don’t resume

‘We will take action,’ says ATU’s international president
Unionized Red Deer Transit members voted overwhelmingly to strike if contract negotiations with the City of Red Deer don’t resume within two weeks. (Advocate file photo)

The union for Red Deer Transit workers says its 130 members have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike if headway isn’t made in contract negotiations with the City of Red Deer.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president and business agent Steve Bradshaw said Red Deer Transit workers voted 99 per cent in favour of strike last Wednesday in their dispute with the City.

Members, including bus drivers and maintenance workers, have been “pushed to the brink” by the City of Red Deer’s refusal to negotiate a contract for fair wages, fair scheduling, improved health measures, and other issues, Bradshaw added.

The contract between the workers’ union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569-Edmonton, AB, and the City expired on Dec. 31, 2022, and the parties have been in negotiations since then.

A one-day session with a provincially appointed mediator ended with the mediator calling for a 14-day cooling-off period, which started on Saturday. Bradshaw said after that, the union could serve strike notice if negotiations don’t resume.

Red Deer union representative Lawanda Ramsey said many outstanding issues include forcing members into part-time positions, working them six days a week, and wages.

“We were there on the frontline throughout the pandemic and accepted zeros two years in a row while the inflation rate soared to 6 and 8 percent,” Bradshaw added. “Now that the City is in a better financial position, they expect us to take sub-inflation increases.”

Amalgamated Transit Union International President John Costa said a strike would be a last resort “since we don’t want to abandon our riders who depend on us.

“If the City of Red Deer continues to refuse to come to the table to address our concerns… we will take action,” he added.

The City of Red Deer acknowledged on Tuesday that it hasn’t yet been able to reach an agreement with the transit workers’ union. “The City and ATU completed eight days of bargaining and one day of mediation. The City received notice on Friday, Sept. 1 of ATU’s decision to cease mediation, triggering a provincially mandated 14-day cooling off period,” stated a city release. Until this period is completed, strike notice cannot be given.

“The City is committed to continuing efforts to reach an agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569. Right now, there is no impact to transit services within The City of Red Deer, and we do not expect to see any service disruptions as we continue to negotiate with the ATU.”

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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