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Transit strike continues in Hamilton as city prepares to host Grey Cup

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Hamilton’s mayor is urging the union representing transit workers to return to the bargaining table as the city prepares to host this year’s Grey Cup amid an ongoing transit strike.

Unionized employees of the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) walked off the job on Thursday after rejecting the later offer from its employer.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107, which represents about 880 City of Hamilton staff, said members were “infuriated” that the proposal did not address inflationary pressures and the current cost of living.

In a written statement released on Tuesday, Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath said the city’s offer to transit workers included a wage increase of 12.75 per cent over four years.

“That increase helps address the rising cost of living and is the exact same increase that has been accepted by the city’s over 3,200 CUPE members, as well as unionized employees in other jurisdictions who have recently ended their strikes as recently as this week,” Horwath said.

“A wage increase higher than that would be unfair to Hamilton’s other unions and to the people of Hamilton, whose transit fares and property taxes would go up as a result, at a time that’s financially difficult for people. That fact won’t change before or after the Grey Cup is played in our great city.”

If the labour action continues as expected, transportation options in the city will be limited on Sunday, when the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers face off in Steeltown for the CFL championship.

“We appreciate and respect our transit workers, and we want them back on the job,” Horwath’s statement read.

“Not just so we can resume the daily transit service people need, but because we want them to feel valued, supported and heard.”

The mayor went on to say that the union leadership has “refused to return to the bargaining table” this week after repeated attempts by the city to restart negotiations.

Eric Tuck, the president of ATU Local 107, confirmed that the city has reached out three times since the strike began.

“Unfortunately every time they reach out, we get the same response. They are not prepared to move off of the wages,” Tuck told CP24 on Wednesday.

“It is quite ironic that our mayor used to be the leader of the labour party and when she was at Queen’s Park, she repeatedly made the statement that workers should be making wages that keep pace with inflation, that workers should make wages that keep pace with the cost of living, and that are reflective of the market that we live in. And yet today she has forgotten those statements.”

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