York bus strike delayed while union votes again
Published Monday, February 21, 2011 7:46PM EST
Commuters in York region have been spared a Tuesday transit strike that would have affected about 28,000 Veolia bus riders.
Veolia Transportation Services Canada drivers and mechanics rejected a tentative contract agreement last Wednesday and were set to walk off the job Tuesday. But in an unusual move, a majority of the union's 214 workers presented a petition on Sunday night asking for a second vote, which will be held later this week.
In the meantime, union members are being told to report to work as usual on Tuesday. They remain in a legal strike position.
While one driver who spoke with CTV News said he doesn't want to strike, another said he didn't see the point of voting on the same deal a second time.
"There must be at least something of a change," he said on Monday. "I'd like something better."
York Region Transit general manager Rick Leary echoed the sentiments of many of the service's riders, saying he's just glad there will be buses on Tuesday.
"I'm extremely happy right now," he told CTV on Monday afternoon. "This is a customer service business and it's really important we have the buses running tomorrow morning."
But as one rider pointed out, either the union or Veolia management will have to budge if a strike is going to be truly averted.
"They can't keep putting it off because it worries people," he said.
Veolia is one of four contractors that provide transit services in the York region, operating 24 daily routes and 131 buses. Its workers are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, the same union that represents TTC employees.
On Friday, union and Veolia representatives returned to the bargaining table. Later that day, York Region Transit posted an alert on its website saying talks had broken down. At issue are sick days, work hours and salaries.
"We're not pleased, I don't think any time you come out of bargaining with an employer that is more interested in profitability then the general public that you come out of it happy," ATU 113 president Bob Kinnear said at the time.
The strike would have affected Veolia routes in Vaughan, Newmarket, Aurora, Markham and King Township. York Regional Transit said routes used to access 16 different high schools would be affected by a strike.
The rest of the region's transit services, including Viva express buses, TTC routes and GO trains and buses would not be affected.