Two unions, transit and outside workers, do mediation on the 29th - are in a position to strike on July 2nd

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 17th, 2015


The labour picture in Burlington is getting that cloudy look.

Two CUPE locals have passed the “no board report” point and are now moving on to mediation which will take place June 29th.
If they can’t settle with the city at mediation they can go on strike July 2nd.

The view among many was that the outside workers would find a way to settle with the city but the transit workers are very far apart – strike is quite likely with the bus drivers.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met.  There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now.  We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban.  The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

The sign in the window might not say open for parts of July.

The unions have one issue which they both want to see some movement on – workers over 65 do not get health and welfare benefits – even though it is apparently written into the collective agreement.

Burlington has never paid those benefits to people over 65 and is apparently now taking the position that not paying the health and welfare benefits is a past practice and does not have to be paid.

The unions claim they have served a legal notice on the city and want the benefit, as it is written into the collective agreement, paid.

The size of the health and welfare package is lower for the outside workers than it is for other union locals, according to the union.

It sounds as if the outside workers are going to use the howl that will come from the public if the pools and splash pads are shut down for July to make their point.

City Council has standing Committee meetings on the 6th, 7th and 8th of July – so they can’t just leave town. If the Outside workers strike – do the Inside workers respect the picket lines?

Xcelsior BUS 009 FRONT VIEW

This bus might stay in the garage for part of July – and not because it is out of gas.

Wages are the issue for the transit workers. The union claims that Burlington transit drivers earn $7 an hour less than those in Hamilton and $3 an hour less than those in Oakville.

Putting money into transit is a hard sell in this city.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

22 comments to Two unions, transit and outside workers, do mediation on the 29th – are in a position to strike on July 2nd

  • John

    Our mayor gave a State Of The City Address in Feb. of 2015 in which he asked, how do we define Burlington.

    He also stated, and I quote,
    I our case, We are Not Toronto. We are Not Hamilton. We are Not Oakville.

    It seems comparisons to other city’s is only use when it services the purpose of the day.

  • Irene K.

    @ James and Public I can’t believe how disrespectful some people are. Burlington Transit Driver’s are the Best Driver’s Ever…. I Take the Burlington Buses as well as buses in other cities and they do more then is expected of them. They not only care about us as passenger’s, but you can tell they care for the city of Burlington. WE NEED BURLINGTON TRANSIT just as we need every other transit system. Who can afford Taxi’s everyday back and forth from work or just getting from one place to the next? I can’t and i’m sure there’s other people that feel the same way. We need Our Transit System and our Taxi’s and cars like every other city so not just people of Burlington can get around, but visitor’s from other cities and towns can come visit too. Burlington’s City Manager & Burlington’s Director of Transit, Do You want your city to be the Best? Then Care of the people that live in this City…Our City. Taking Our City Buses not only helps us get to work and to our destinations, but also helps us socially interact with people in our city and people from others cities and countries.
    Think about HOW and WHO this effects… just do what you have to do to keep our city running. WE NEED OUR BURLINGTON TRANSIT DRIVER’S to keep us moving.
    I’ve been taking the city bus for 26 years and they have not failed me yet. You the Director’s and Manager’s are by not Thinking about how this Strike will effect not only your city, but all other cities around us. So Sad over something So minuscule. Why is this taking so long?

    • James

      I’m sure Burlington Transit drivers are all wonderful people, I have no disrespect for them whatsoever. But how is paying them more than the job is worth going to make Burlington a better city? A strong transit system is a must, but not at all costs. The Burlington public already pays high taxes, and it’s going to climb sharply in the coming years due to unrelated circumstances. Burlington is quickly becoming an unaffordable city to live in. Higher transit fees isn’t going to help that. If we over-pay the transit drivers, we’ll have to over-pay the other public sector workers as well. In fact many would say we’re already there. It’s just not good business. It’s not sustainable.

  • Jody

    Holy hostile. Workers are asking for a raise and some people think they should quit? Others believe the outside workers do nothing for the taxpayers of this great city.
    So sad. Some people spew the same old rhetoric. If it’s not city workers to hate on it’s teachers. If not teachers it’s nurses. If not nurses it autoworkers and so on. The very people that live, work, play and SPEND their money in the community. The Gazette reads more like the Toronto Sun everyday.

  • Susan Lewis

    I do realize that union bashing is in fashion right now so this will be my last comment on the matter. By the way, I most certainly do not support all unions but I do support this one.

    Personally, I consider Big Business Lobbyists to be the most powerful and costly unions in Canada and a more serious threat to our economy than the working class unions. They’re the ones we should be angry with, not our workers unions. I’m talking about lobbyists like the Big Banks such as The Royal Bank of Canada, and the multinationals like Suncor. But, it would appear that people seem to find it easier to turn on each other rather than go after big business. Maybe that’s why Occupy Wall Street fizzled out even though it started due to the greed and criminal acts of some of the .1%’ers.

    My point is, I see so much anger directed at our workers unions and very little said against Big Business and Multinational Corporate Lobbyists in the media.

    I disagree that the answer is to ask our politicians to lower more people’s wages. In Canada, we did get rid of a lot of worker’s unions after the Free Trade deals were signed. I don’t think our economy or the number of good jobs available has improved since then. I do hear a lot of talk lately about the disappearing middle class though.

    In Burlington, as per the current collective agreement, a transit driver starts at $12.65 per hour. In 2012, according to Community Development Halton, the living wage for Halton was $17.05 /hour. Bear in mind that a transit driver has split shifts and less than full-time hours for many years after being hired. Also, please keep in mind that a lot of your neighbours may belong to, or have belonged to a union in the past.

    I also believe that most of the money the City of Burlington employees earn would be spent in Burlington thereby benefiting all of us.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
    Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

  • Brenda Craig

    To: Burlington’s City Manager &
    Burlington’s Director of Transit
    Give the transit driver’s what they so rightfully DESERVE!
    Think of the people who rely on transit as their only means
    to get around our city. Such as people with mobility issues
    who use our Handi-Van services. Seniors who live independently who do not have families to drive them to medical appointments, groceries etc. Think of the people who want to go to the Pan Am Games they need Burlington Transit running to connect to other transit systems to get there. Think of all the essential workers in our city who use transit to get to work, such as nurses for example. I spoke to one today. She doesn’t know what she is going to do if there is a transit strike. We cannot all afford taxi’s, and for some us there is no chance of carpooling with anyone. WHAT DO WE ALL DO THEN HITCHHIKE! What about the safety factor doing that with total strangers.
    Think of all the worker’s who help our economy grow in our city and need transit to get to work and home again. I am a senior with no family, no car and due to health issues do not have “walking” as a backup to get around.

    • James

      Really? Really?

      No disrespect to bus drivers, but considering the job that they do for an underperforming and underutilized transit system, the fact that they’re making more than minimum wage is a victory for them as it is. Everyone should make enough money to live on, but let’s be honest for a moment, not all jobs warrant higher salaries. They didn’t go to university for 4 years or more to drive laps in a bus.

      “Deserve” is an interesting word. It suggests you’re entitled to something, or that someone owes you something. The world doesn’t work like that anymore.

      Union propaganda has a tendency to elevate union members’ status in their own minds such that they feel they deserve more than they’re worth. Those of us not under the union’s spell know better. Bus drivers don’t deserve to be paid the same as skilled professionals, I’m sorry, but they just don’t. If we give in to their demands now, in a few years and we’ll be right back where we are, watching them put their hands out again asking for more. It never ends. Giving in to their demands is a mistake. They’ll never be satisfied, because the union leadership will see to that. Their job is to maintain a constant state of unrest.

      “Do whatever it takes.” “Give the drivers what they rightfully deserve”??? I say they’re already getting what they rightfully deserve. They knew what the job paid before they accepted the position. They chose to take it. If they want more money for doing the same job, I cannot support that. If they want to walk out on their jobs, let them. Then the very next day, let’s hire new bus drivers who would gladly relieve them of their salaries and benefits.

      It’s time to put a stop to these unions taking the public hostage by threatening strikes and work stoppages. If they want to walk, let them walk, but let’s stop playing games. Walking out on your public sector job should have the same consequences as walking out of your private sector job. Don’t be surprised if when you return, your belongings are waiting for you in a box by the front door, and someone else is sitting at your old desk. Sadly, the public sector unions know this won’t happen. They have no consequences. They are untouchable, and they know it. That’s why it’s wrong. The public needs to stand up against it, not roll over.

  • Mary H.

    I’m thinking JAMES works in a factory, those words sounds like factory words to me.

    • James

      What does that even mean? I don’t by the way, I work in a non-unionized private sector office, but please, explain your point.

      As for unionized factory workers, I take the same position. Present day unions are in the business of making the union leaders money. Plain and simple. Happy workers are not good business for unions. Happy workers may eventually question why they are giving money to these leaders, which is why these leaders fill the union members heads with misleading propaganda that makes them believe they are being treated unfairly, and that they need these leaders to fight for their rights. It’s a relationship that has worked very well for union leaders for a very long time. Unfortunately the economy has changed over time, as has the increased sense of entitlement, which has lead us to where we are today. One union after the other threatening strikes, killing the Canadian economy even further, making foreign workers look more and more attractive each day. These unions aren’t protecting Canadians, they’re pricing us out of the market. It’s just a matter of time before this all comes crashing down. The union leaders will have made their money. The unemployed union members will be left scratching their heads, wondering where that pension money went that they were promised.

  • Centerline

    Let them walk.

  • Former Ward 3

    John, your comments are very insensitive. I do not understand the comment about not making comparisons. We live in a capitalistic society where organizations need to understand their worth through the people, their skills and the job they perform. The City of Burlington is like any business, public or private. We did not get to where we are as a community simply by cutting costs by driving down wages against the rate of inflation. Your job is to identify what this city needs today and 10 years from today. It is the job of the city manager to look at staff resources and find opportunities to be as efficient as possible.
    There is an expectation that comes with any position. If a man makes a dollar today that same job in 10 years should afford that person the same goods and services with enough in his pocket to pay for it. That is a dignity that ALL Canadians regardless of job should expect in this country. That should be YOUR goal if you want this Burlington to remain a vibrant place to work and live. It appears your are prepared to settle for second best and race to the bottom for the sake of votes.

    • John

      Former Ward 3, If you tell me what you don’t understand about comparisons I will try to explain.

      The capitalist society we live in is revolving faster each day.
      The notion of doing the same thing for 10 years without skill or service improvements and expecting the same standard of living has long past.

      Unionized workers have been giving concessions for years recognizing that business can no longer compete with current wages and benefits in Canada. In some businesses wages for new employees will never reach current levels.

      Like any business the city of Burlington is slowly recognizing that they can no longer simply raise taxes to pay for excessive costs.

      Expectations are a funny thing, the more you have the more often you are disappointed.

  • Roger

    The people who work in the public sector are welcome to leave – they will find that the private sector has become a cold place.

    Excellent pension, pay incentives, training

    To the members in the union – you do an excellent job for the city however if you consider your condition unacceptable – nobody is forcing you to stay


    As their will be 5 people lining up for every new position that open and by the way they will be well qualified and ready to work

  • Susan Lewis

    John, or whomever you are, I think most of us are aware that Burlington is not Hamilton or Oakville. However, Oakville is an excellent comparison because their population is only 6,000 higher than ours.

    Actually, when it comes to government, some do get a raise for just showing up. An example would be our elected City Councillors: Jan. 25, 2012 “With all the unionized workers working for the City of Burlington having settled their contracts, with a reasonable increase in their salaries of 1.5 per cent, 1.9 per cent and 1.9 per cent each year in a three-year contract, it is with awe that I heard councillors increase their salary by 3.2 per cent … while non-unionized staff were held to zero per cent and the unionized workers were reasonable in their demands.” Most people in Canada also get a raise for “just showing up”, it’s referred to as a cost of living increase. Even C.P.P. gets a cost of living increase and no seniors are asked to show up anywhere.

    As far as service is concerned, people who use the system have been rating our drivers as the best they have ever encountered anywhere.”

    • James

      “Most people in Canada also get a raise for “just showing up””?? I don’t think so, not anymore. That cost of living increase is no longer guaranteed in the private sector. I don’t get a cost of living increase, and most people I know don’t get a cost of living increase. We get a salary, and unless we ask for a raise or change employers, we stay at that salary. I know a woman who has not gotten a pay increase in over 12 years. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the reality in the private sector. That’s why it’s so frustrating to have to listen to whiny public sector union workers complain that they’re not getting enough, when they already get more than us for doing less work. They have no idea how good they’ve got it. Seriously. Can you imagine one of those entitled public sector workers joining the public sector, with less pay, less vacation, less sick days, less benefits and more hours? They’d learn to shut their mouths and appreciate what they’ve already got pretty darn quick!

  • B Carlton

    John, unfortunately this has been the way of negotiating with our public unions specifically Police EMS and Fire. The government of the time always caves in. That’s why this province is bankrupt.
    The province doesn’t have the money…..FYI teachers.

    • John

      B, absolutely correct, UNFORTUNATE.
      Perhaps this council and mayor could find the courage to be pioneers and reverse the status quo.

      If not they should be considered average and not suitable for reselection and certainly not for advancement.

      As for the province, teachers and their union, not so long ago they went out on an illegal strike.
      When they did Mike Harris (love him or hate him) set a very important precedent.

      He sent out the saving to parents with children in school at the time.
      Unfortunately for him he did not remember that all tax payers contributed to the education costs and did not reimburse those without children. Effectively making the education tax a user fee.

      If our municipal unions can’t find reason in their demands maybe a tax credit for all would ease the pain for the loss of service.

  • James

    I am so #&$%*#% tired of hearing about public sector unions threatening to go on strike because their workers lives are so rough, even though their wages, benefits, sick days and vacation days far exceed the private sector workers who are paying their salaries.

    Don’t like your job? Quit. Think you should be paid more for picking up garbage or driving a bus, well I’m sorry, you should have thought about that when you were skipping classes in high school. That was your decision, not ours. You knew what the job paid when you took it. If that’s not good enough for you now then go find something else that pays more. That’s on you, not us.

    Without a blink of an eye I’d fire each and every union member who so much as thought about going on strike. Do they not realize there is a line forming of people that would replace them, and most likely do their jobs better? Great salaries and smaller workloads… what’s not to like?

    This union mentality is killing us, and the worst part is the union members are so bloody brainwashed into believing the union propaganda, they don’t even realize it. It’s time to abolish these self-serving and entitlement-minded unions once and for all!!

    I’m sorry public sector, but we just can’t afford to keep elevating your remuneration and lifestyle at the expense of ours, when you’re already so far ahead. But you don’t get that… do you?

  • stevewinter

    I FEEL THAT BUS DRIVERS SHOULD SUCK IT UP AND MOVE ON they should think of the passegers on the bus and get over it

  • John

    We are not Hamilton and we are not Oakville, using these cities as a reason for a pay increase is ridiculous.
    If the transit workers want to apply for jobs there to increase their wages the have the option.

    Does anyone in our local government ask these workers what they plan to add to their services to earn a wage increase.

    You don’t get an increase for just showing up !

    • Jody

      What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
      I don’t take the bus so can’t comment on transit but the men and women who keep our streets & public spaces clean and maintained must do more then show up. Take a good look at other cities and reflect back to ours. Sure it’s not absolutely perfect but to me looks clean and maintained. I’ve called in complaints and the service turnaround is reasonable. I’ve lived in other municipalities that took months for someone to show up. I also recall the ice storm 2 years ago seeing staff working Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day opening roads and removing limbs and trees form roads and sidewalks. I’m sure it was voluntary to come in and they choose to serve us over important holiday time with their loved ones.
      I do think wages for similar work in the GTA should be used as a benchmark. Seems to work for the Sunshine club at City Hall?

      From 2012 Inside Halton Story

      “The non-unionized salaries, which are approved by council, are based on other municipalities, according to Roy Male, executive director of human resources

      Nine city staff made between $150,000 and $200,000, with the top earners in this bracket being Kim Phillips, general manager of community services at $191,808, with $8,905 in taxable benefits; Roy Male, executive director of human resources, at $182,435 and $969 in taxable benefits, and Allan Magi, executive director of corporate strategic initiatives at $172,529, with $945 in taxable benefits.”

  • Susan Lewis

    Burlington Transit workers’ contracts expired more than a year ago.

    “Union spokesman Dean Mainville argues that the employees are being compensated poorly when compared to counterparts in neighbouring municipalities, like Oakville and Hamilton.” and “Talks will resume on June 29, in advance of a legal strike or lockout date of July 2.”

    If there was a strike, it would include the Handi-Van services as well. Burlington City Councillors, how could you?

    Susan Lewis