City responds after transit union rejects final contract

The City of Saskatoon has responded after the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 voted 94 per cent against a proposed contract that would include wage increases but also a cut to its pension plan.

Both sides express hope to return to bargaining table

Members of Saskatoon's Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 voted overwhelmingly against a proposed contract offer Friday. (CBC)

City of Saskatoon officials responded Saturday after the union representing its 400 transit workers strongly rejected the city's final contract offer.

On Friday night, 94 percent of the members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 voted against the offer, which the union said included a 10 percent wage increase over four years but also a reduction in pension benefits.

Despite the strong vote against the contract, both sides say a strike is not imminent. 

The outcome of the vote was "quite concerning," said Marno McInnes, the city's director of human resources, at a press conference at Saskatoon City Hall on Saturday.

Eight of nine unions representing city workers have accepted terms similar to what the Amalgamated Transit Union was offered, said McInnes.

Marno McInnes, director of human resources for the City of Saskatoon, speaks at city hall after Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615 rejected the city's final contract offer. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

"[I was] a little disappointed [with the result of the vote]," said McInnes. "I was expecting maybe something different. We put a fair and good proposal on the table."

The union has said it wants wage increases based on the average of what workers in other western Canadian cities have received.

No immediate strike concern

Union leaders have said there is no threat of immediate job action, and they hope talks will continue.

McInnes echoed that sentiment on Saturday.

"At this point in time, it's business as usual," he said. "There's nothing to worry about."

The transit workers have been without a contract since the end of 2012.