Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc is asking the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290 to allow its members to vote on the city’s latest offer to end the 14-week-old lockout.
The city is offering to pay Codiac Transpo drivers $52,000 a year by 2017, but the union is holding out in hopes of being paid $60,000 per year by 2018.
LeBlanc said at Monday night’s council meeting the union's intransigence is making life difficult for people who need the bus to get around.
"I ask the union to call a vote on this proposal. Let's put the buses back on the road and put our customers back in the buses," he said.
The two sides met in September in an attempt to hammer out a new contract.
Both sides have agreed to annual pay hikes that would bring the bus drivers' salaries to $51,000 a year by 2017, up from $44,000.
The union’s demand for a $60,000 salary in 2018 has been described as a "wage bomb" by Jacques Dubé, the city manager of Moncton.
No new talks between the city and the union are scheduled.
Union members seem undeterred by the tough talk of Moncton city council.
Allan McGrath was one of 20 bus drivers who came to the Moncton city council meeting on Monday to put pressure on the politicians to give in to their wage demands.
"People say do you think you deserve what you – Yes, you know what? I do. I honestly do," he said. The union leadership has called on the city to accept binding arbitration.
Union has ‘the best offer’
City councillors followed the mayor’s lead on Monday night, urging the union members to rethink their opposition to the latest deal.
Coun. Pierre Boudreau said a salary of $52,000 after five years is a good deal for the drivers.
"This is the best offer that the union is going to get from the city of Moncton," he said.
"The union's demand concerning the year 2018, which would represent an increase in that year alone of 14 per cent is so far out in left field that the city can't even contemplate picking up the ball and throwing it that far."
Boudreau said about 25 per cent of city bus drivers already made more than $60,000 last year with overtime.
Boudreau wasn’t the only councillor hoping the union would reconsider its position.
"I think the union has to take a hard look at this," said Coun. Shawn Crossman.