News Conference: Mayor Farbridge’s statement regarding transit union lockout

Good morning everyone.

I have a brief statement to make, and then I will pass it over to our Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert, who will have a few more comments. At that point we will be happy to take any questions. I’d like to introduce the staff we have on hand to take your questions, along with Ann and myself:

  • Mark Amorosi, Executive Director of Corporate and Human Resources
  • David Godwaldt, General Manager of Human Resources
  • Phil Meagher, General Manager of Guelph Transit

As you know, the members of Guelph’s transit union voted yesterday to reject the City’s final contract offer. We are very disappointed in the result of this vote.

As of 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 14, the City of Guelph is locking out the members of ATU Local 1189. This means that transit services will not be running until the union and its members reconsiders the City’s offer.

This is not a decision we made lightly. We know this will create enormous hardship for transit riders and our community.

The first step we are taking to alleviate some of the hardship is to offer a 50 per cent refund to our affordable bus pass holders starting on Tuesday, July 15 at City Hall.

Further steps will be taken for all pass holders depending on the duration of the lock out.

Council is confident that the City’s negotiating team has done everything it could to avoid this situation – through an unprecedented 22 days of negotiations, including seven with a provincially appointed conciliator. They have been met with unreasonable delays and unreasonable demands.

For example:

Council has been advised that ATU’s combined extra requests and wage parity with Grand River Transit would cost taxpayers 4.6 million dollars over the next three years.

That equates to a tax increase of almost 2.3 per cent over three years – solely to fund the delivery of transit.

Council cannot in good conscience contemplate such a financial impact on transit riders and property taxpayers.

Council and Administration have a responsibility to transit customers, local taxpayers and the community as a whole, as well as transit employees.

Our goal is a contract that balances fair and competitive compensation with affordability for transit customers and taxpayers, without compromising the safety or well-being of our community.

We take that seriously, and that’s why we felt we had no choice but to react decisively and clearly to the decision of ATU members.

I know this service disruption will be hard on the many people who rely on transit service each and every day.

There is no good time for a service disruption like this, but we felt it would be better now, when transit ridership is at its lowest, rather than in September when ridership goes up by nearly 60 percent. I recognize that is cold comfort to those who would have taken transit on Monday morning.

I want to announce that Mobility Service will still be provided for pre-booked medical services, for those who are already on Guelph Transit’s list for transportation. Mobility Service customers can continue to access the service, but for medical appointments only.

It is my sincere hope that our transit employees will take a second look at the City’s offer this weekend – it represents a fair and competitive offer for our employees and is respectful of those who pay for the service. We hope to have our community’s transit service up and running again as soon as possible.