Transit union to escalate picketing in York Region bus dispute; "huge" picket line planned for Thursday morning at Finch station.

TORONTO, Nov. 23, 2011 /CNW/ - In response to complaints by York Region Conservative MPP Frank Klees that he hadn't seen much picketing in the York Region Transit (YRT) strike, the Amalgamated Transit Union will be dramatically stepping up its picketing action beginning tomorrow morning at Finch Station, a terminal for many YRT buses travelling to and from the TTC system.

Hundreds of striking YRT workers will be showing up outside the station before 6:00 a.m. tomorrow to demonstrate their frustration at the refusal of the private bus contractors to end the strike immediately by agreeing to arbitration.

"Mr. Klees wants to see picket lines, we'll show him picket lines," said Bob Kinnear, president of ATU Local 113, which represents 220 striking YRT Viva workers. "It will be huge."

ATU Local 1587 represents even more striking workers - 250 from Miller Transit and over 90 from First Student.

"Up to this point we've been mainly focusing on reaching out to the public with information about our cause, which is just," said Ray Doyle, Local 1587 president. "We have generally avoided inconveniencing the travelling public with picket lines but that strategy seems to annoy Mr. Klees. No problem. We will correct that."

The union plans to significantly beef up its presence on the street in the days to come while reiterating its offer to stop the strike on a dime as soon as the contractors agree to a neutral arbitration process. The union's offer was refused outright when it was extended three weeks ago. York Regional Chairman Bill Fisch has sided with the contractors in this matter by refusing to ask them to submit the dispute to arbitration.

"It's mysterious why not a single York Region politician is in favour of voluntary arbitration, which would end the strike," says Kinnear. "It kind of makes you wonder what's going on behind the scenes. We've been told by insiders that Regional Councillors are scared stiff of opposing Chairman Fisch, which is sad if true."

A poll taken in late October found that 71 per cent of York Region residents wanted Regional Council to intervene in the strike and demand that the companies end the strike through arbitration.

"I guess what the people think doesn't matter to their elected representatives," said Doyle. "The interests of the multi-billion dollar multinational transit companies like Veolia and First seem to take precedence. Someone should be asking why."

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587

For further information:

ATU Local 1587: Ray Doyle, 416-986-4103
ATU Local 113: Bob Kinnear, 416-398-5113 or 416-223-7366

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

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