York Region Transit: Miller workers ratify new contract by 80%

TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - The 250 workers at Miller Transit in York Region ended their strike that began last October 24 by ratifying a settlement reached Thursday by a vote of 160 to 40.

The five-year pact calls for annual wage increases totalling 16.55%. By April 2016, a top-rated bus operator will be making just over $26 an hour.

"We recommended this settlement to the members because we felt we were exactly where we would have been if we had taken this dispute to arbitration last November," said ATU Local 1587 President Ray Doyle.

"We fought for what we believed in and we won," said Doyle to a cheering room of Miller workers when he announced the vote result.

"Every day of this strike beyond November 2nd, when we first proposed arbitration, is due to York Region Chairman Bill Fisch's vindictive rejection of a rational solution, which was neutral arbitration. He wanted to punish workers who had the temerity to question his view of what transit workers should be paid."

Fisch, who is Canada's highest-paid municipal politician, at over $250,000 a year in salary and benefits, repeatedly refused to consider neutral arbitration as a means to settle the strike. He falsely claimed throughout the strike that the union had been seeking wage parity with transit workers in the rest of the GTA, who make about seven dollars an hour more than York Region Transit workers.

"We were always very clear that we were not seeking parity with the rest of the GTA," said Doyle. "We simply wanted to keep our heads above water but apparently that was too much for Fisch."

A major remaining issue in the dispute is the fate of 92 striking workers at First Student, which lost the contract with York Region less than two weeks ago. Local 1587 will be taking legal steps to have the new contractor, Tokmajian-Can-Ar, hire the former First Student workers.

"We are brothers and sisters. We do not leave our wounded on the battlefield."

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587

For further information:

Ray Doyle, 416-986-4103

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Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587

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