Red Deer transit workers opt for arbitration, averting strike
After a near-unanimous strike vote two weeks ago, Red Deer transit workers have opted to enter arbitration with the City of Red Deer, averting a possible strike.
Citing the harm a work stoppage would do to the people who rely on the Red Deer transit system, the members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 569-Edmonton have “overwhelmingly” voted to engage the arbitration process.
“We care about our passengers and did not want to resort to a strike,” said Steve Bradshaw, local president/business agent.
“It’s never a good thing when parties have to resort to third-party arbitration to solve their differences. But this will impose a resolution that both the City and the Union will live with and help to ensure a safe and reliable transit system for our riders and community.”
Lawanda Ramsey, Local 569 Red Deer chair, said workers were “particularly moved” by an appeal sent by Red Deer Polytechnic about the difficulties a strike would pose for students.
“Our members are deeply motivated to achieve a fair deal with the City, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of the people who depend on us for transportation each day,” said Ramsey.
The contract between the 130-plus Red Deer transit workers and the city expired on December 31, 2022 – the parties have been in negotiations since then. The critical outstanding issues raised by the union are workers being put into part-time positions, working them six days a week and wages.
“The solidarity and unity of our members at Local 569 in their fight for a fair and just contract is a victory for fair treatment on the job, living wages, and for our riders,” said John Costa, ATU International president.
“I am proud of these workers for standing strong and standing together. Thanks to their strength and determination, they have taken the steps to achieve a solution to their dispute and earned the respect and dignity they deserve as frontline heroes they are. Let this be a message that workers are sick and tired of being mistreated, disrespected, overworked, and underpaid.”