Saskatoon

Saskatoon Transit drivers to stop wearing uniforms over contract concerns

Saskatoon Transit drivers plan to ditch their uniforms on Wednesday to raise awareness of their ongoing contract negotiations with the City of Saskatoon.

Transit drivers will switch to street clothes starting Wednesday

Transit union president Jim Yakubowski said transit operators will stop wearing uniforms to put pressure on the City of Saskatoon to reach a new contract with the union. (CBC)

Saskatoon Transit drivers plan to ditch their uniforms on Wednesday to raise awareness of their ongoing contract negotiations with the City of Saskatoon.

At a marathon meeting Monday at the Ramada Hotel in Saskatoon, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615 discussed what action they should take, as they sit at an impasse on a new collective bargaining agreement with the City.

Union president Jim Yakubowski said the union executive heard varied opinions on how to proceed. Yesterday's discussions included whether or not to strike.

But to avoid any harm to the transit riders in Saskatoon, Yakubowski and the union ultimately agreed to raise awareness about their plight to reach a new contract with the City. So, they decided transit operators will stop wearing their uniforms and go with street clothes until a new deal is reached.

"Not wearing our uniforms to start with is step one of raising awareness that we want to get these issues settled," Yakubowski said.

"Our intent is to raise awareness that our last proposal that we put to the city is valued less than the cost of the two weeks pay of the lockout," Yakubowski said, adding their proposal would cost the city about $500,000. That's $151,000 less than the damages the City was ordered to pay the union at the request of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board because of the illegal lockout in 2014.

Transit union pension plan a dividing factor

Changes to the Transit union's pension plan continue to separate the two sides from reaching a deal.

The union said it's concerned with the City's proposal to shift the liability and the risk of their pension plan onto the backs of the union membership by capping the City's contributions to the pension plan and agreeing to a dispute-resolution mechanism.

"Those two things combined relinquish the City from having any liability for the future of the pension plan and for us that's unacceptable," Yakubowski said.

"We as the executive have put back suggestions to them that we believe we can still resolve this issue with the least amount of impact to the citizens and we're going to give that an honest effort before we have to escalate to another level."

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