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The mayor asks a very good question

January 28, 2009 @ 20:32 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

antiatu279.pngLarry O’Brien has written a blog entry asking what is the ATU willing to compromise on. He talks about the negotiations over the last couple of months, including the recent negotiations. The city has changed their offer from 7.25% over three years to 9.25% over three years. (As a point of reference, federal employees are only getting 6.8% over four years.) They’re focusing on the safety aspects and consequently have removed the $2500 bonus drivers were going to receive in recognition of efficiencies that would have been achieved by the new contract.

9.25% is what the union was asking for (even though they’ve said it’s not about the money) and still they’re saying no.

For the union to say that the city’s offer is basically unchanged from the original offer is ludicrous. True, the city wants to regain control of the schedule and they’re not budging on this, but they’ve sweetened the pot in return by giving in on the salary demands. (Management has the right and responsibility to manage. Without control over the schedule, they cannot exercise this right nor fulfill their responsibilities.)

Compromise is a two-way street. The city has compromised on some things, so what is the union willing to compromise on to reach an agreement?

Parliament is going to hold an emergency debate on the transit strike in Ottawa and the federal government is getting ready to introduce back-to-work legislation. The debate is scheduled for Thursday evening, which doesn’t leave much time for an agreement to be reached.

So what should happen between now and then?

Well, the city should tweak the current offer on the table and present it as a “new” offer. This would then give the union negotiators the chance to save a little face and say to its members “This is the best deal we could negotiate. It’s not everything we want, but it’s not completely unreasonable” and recommend they vote to accept (like CUPE 5500 did back in December). If the union members still vote to reject, then the feds can legislate them back to work and send it to arbitration, but chances are they wouldn’t get as good a deal as if they voted to accept.

A tip o’ the hat to Public Transit in Ottawa for the lead on the back-to-work story.

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