City, transit union exchange words ahead of contract vote

The City of Winnipeg and its transit union exchanged barbs on Thursday in advance of a vote over a contract offer.

City says union poised to receive strike mandate; Union chides city for negotiating in public

Two Winnipeg Transit inspector stations opened downtown last fall. Safety concerns are playing a role in transit-union contract talks. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg and its transit union exchanged barbs on Thursday in advance of a vote over a contract offer.

The city's collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 expired on Jan. 12. Before contract negotiations started, the union identified safety concerns as a source of discussion.

On Thursday, the city issued a statement raising the prospect of a strike mandate if workers reject a contract offer in a vote slated for next week.

"If ATU 1505 rejects the city's proposal, it will provide the union with a strike mandate," the city stated in a press release.

"We are confident that we have presented a fair offer for taxpayers and the union."

Union responds

In a statement of its own, the union said the vote, slated to happen throughout next week, will not result in a strike mandate. The union also chided the city for negotiating in public.

"If the City of Winnipeg felt that they had made a fair offer to our membership, then we sincerely doubt that they would be releasing public statements regarding the proposal to the media and general public," ATU 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary said in a statement.

"We were hopeful that the City of Winnipeg would bargain in good faith and allow us to take their proposal to our members, but it would appear that they are not interested in engaging in a collaborative process," said Chaudhary, who added a rejection next week would not provide his members a strike mandate. 

"Any strike action would be authorized by the ATU 1505 membership in a separate vote," he said.

Winnipeg Transit drivers have not gone on strike since 1976.


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