GrassRoots Guelph offers a solution to end the Guelph Transit work stoppage

Poasted July 26, 2014

The Mayor has invited the Amalgamated Transit Union workers to present a counter-offer in an effort to solve the current work stoppage. On the surface, it is a move to ferret out the real issues that the ATU is holding dear to their cause.

In other words, if you don’t know what they really want, how can you bargain constructively?

The union’s local president says his committee will discuss this latest attempt by the city to settle the dispute at a meeting to be held this weekend.

It’s not always a good idea to bargain in public. Bargaining a new collective agreement is a tricky and complex procedure. It requires give and take and there is bluster, intransigence and power tripping.

But the time has come offer solutions to the impasse. Here’s GrassRoots Guelph’s plan to end the work stoppage.

Past experience dictates that the invitation to counter the city’s last settlement proposal is the beginning of ending the strike/lockout. Sure there are political issues involved in this dispute.

The union wants to force the city to settle, on their terms before the arrival of 22,000 university students, beginning the last week in August. The city needs a quick settlement to save face with the public and get the buses rolling.

So, one wants a settlement on its terms and the other wants the buses to operate sooner than later.

Here’s a plan to resolve the dispute.

Following hearing a union counter offer, the city agrees to address the working conditions’ issues raised by the union. A committee composed of two union appointees, two city staffers, two public members, and an independent chairperson would be established. This committee, with the majority agreeing to an action plan within 90 days to resolve ATU working condition issues, will execute the plan within a year.

The city agrees to pay each member of the locked out ATU a contract-signing bonus of $800, based on agreement of the terms of the new contract.

The term of the agreement is four years, with an annual increase of base pay of 2 1/4 per cent.

The new collective agreement must be settled by Monday, August 18, 2014.

All the contract language, as previously proposed by the city, remain except for the stated changes.

This is a fair and equitable offer that benefits the union, with a commitment to resolve the working condition issues through a defined process. It also contains a new money package that includes an overall wage increase, totaling 10 per cent over the lifetime of the contract, plus an $800 signing bonus.

For the city, it means the transit system that the public can rely on, and will be running without interruption for the next three years.

It represents a win-win for each side and the public it serves.

If you are interested in joining GRG, the growing citizen’s activist movement, send your name address and telephone number plus email address to:

To access the GRG website go to:

GRG is dedicated to informing the citizens and providing fact-based commentary and ideas to make our city a place in which all people benefit.



Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “GrassRoots Guelph offers a solution to end the Guelph Transit work stoppage

  1. Joe Black

    Or privatize them at the same time privatize snowploughing and garbage pick up

  2. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Gerry – an interesting article but you missed the boat with your financial machinations. I have long said that the tax & spend council are financially illiterate. You approach that same illiteracy with your proposed 2.25% annual increase compounded for 4 years on top of an $800 signing bonus. Take a look at the CPI for the last 5 years since 2009 and it compounds at 10.17% with a range from 0.1% in 2009 to 2.9% in 2011. For the same period the property tax increases compounded at 25.5% (exclusive of MPAC added burden) with a range from to 7.2% in 2.97% in 2013.
    Your proposed 2.25% increase will quickly become the base for all contract negotiations with city employees. Given the financial tsunami called the Urbacon settlement, which could approach $40 million, that is about to wash over council & taxpayers, combined with the $33 million given away to downtown developers, and the $53 million composting facility & bin waste mismanagement system, any transit settlement must be such that combined with all other financial budgetary demands the tax increase is held to 1% annually. Time to pay the piper.

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: This work stoppage is affecting hundreds of citizens. It’s a issue with a critical deadline, September 1. It may surprise you that I am not financially illiterate. I am however pragmatic and this stoppage not only abuses the transit users but threatens the overall economics of the city.
      I share your views on the way the taxpayers of the city have been used and abused by the Farbridge administration. But in curtailing spending and putting the management of this city back on track to living within our means, is a long-term exercise that the next council faces.
      Hopefully, you will be elected to that council representing Ward 6, and bring common sense and financial experience to the table. However, this situation is a fire that needs to be put out now. The settlement solution is not out of line with other labour contracts signed by the city. In this case compromise is the mother of necessity.

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Ah Gerry.. Instead of hitting the nail on the head, you whacked your thumb with the hammer on this one. Though there may have been other settlements in the range you espoused, it’s no reason to continue along this trajectory to to financial oblivion. Recall Albert Einsteins definition of insanity as ” Doing the same thing over and over again & expecting different results”. Time to stop the insanity and not let putting out a “fire” distort good management. Go for a 1 year contract at 2% and use it to send the message that the status quo isn’t good enough anymore.

    • Glen N.Tolhurst: I wish you luck with that suggestion. But then, you will have time next year when elected to apply your wisdom in solving what we both agree must stop the city’s financial bleeding. Unfortunately, right now we have a public transit crisis that needs fixing. Perhaps this experience will provide a learning curve on how to solve problems when you are elected to council.

  4. Brent

    Sorry Gerry….but I am onside with Glen on this one. Did you recently fall and hit your head. These buses drive are driven around the city mostly empty all day. The drivers who claim they have a stressful job often sit for many minutes at a bus stop in oder to slow things down to keep to the schedule. A pay raise of 2.25% per year is absurd given the fact it includes last year when inflation was less than one percent. These kind of wage increases is what has led to tax increase abuse for Guelphites. Besides union members have declared that money is not the issue..its better washroom and lunchroom facilities. Seems the negotiators should give them that and lower the wage offer to 1.5% per year and give them the facilities they asked for. That would be listening to them. In the meantime some of those bus riders could make use of some of those underused bicycle lanes the Farbridge admin has been spending hundreds of thousands of our hard earned tax dollars on.

    • Brent: You surprise me. Both you and Glen have taken the hard line on blaming the union for this work stoppage. You know that it takes two to tango. This union was locked out.

      The real victims are ignored by both of you. The people who use the system are the ones who are really hurting. I’m no fan of this union or its intransigence to settle or compromise in any way after 13 months. Having been involved in many union negotiations, it always boils down to one thing … it’s all about the money. You can bargain about working conditions until you’re blue in the face but it always comes down to the money. They’ve already turned down 8.7 per cent, do you think they’ll suddenly accept 6 per cent as you suggest?

      Look at this as a battle in the middle of a war. The real task for the next council to is take the necessary action to reduce ALL city costs particularly labour. There are number of legal and legitimate ways to accomplish this. First we have to rid ourselves of the Farbridge dominated council and de-politicize senior staff.

      Then we have to elect responsible, experienced people to council. That process is underway and already there are some promising new candidates ready to bring change to the way our city has lost its way in the past eight years. Thanks to you and Glen for contributing to the debate.

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