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Transit supporters to hand out treats to bus drivers

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/5/2015 (733 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While negotiations resume this morning between city hall and the transit union, a handful of transit riders are planning to show their support for transit staff.

Robert McGregor said he and a few other friends who use transit will be distributing doughnuts and Tim Hortons gift certificates to transit drivers during the Friday afternoon rush hour.

Winnipeg Transit buses ready to be deployed from the Osborne transit garage in a file photo.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Transit buses ready to be deployed from the Osborne transit garage in a file photo.

McGregor, who rides the 14 bus to work from the West End, said he was disappointed with what appears to be mostly negative public comments about the transit drivers and other transit workers and their no-overtime initiative while negotiations are going on with city hall.

"We felt it was really important to express our support for the transit workers so they know that Winnipeg is behind them," McGregor said. "People who have jobs, like myself, understand the importance of fighting for a fair contract with your employer."

McGregor said he reached out to a handful of friends through Facebook who quickly agreed to join the initiative.

Treats for transit drivers near MTS Centre

McGregor and his friends plan to meet at 4:30 this afternoon in front of the MTS Centre. From there, they will split up, posting themselves on both sides of Portage Avenue and along Graham Avenue, where they will distributed home-made doughnuts and $5 Tim Hortons gift cards to the drivers.

"We saw how the (transit) workers were being demonized," McGregor said. "It’s a really, really hard job and if (the city) wants people to do that job, they have to pay better."

McGregor, 28, said he’s been riding public transit since high school and now uses it almost daily to get to his job.

McGregor said the transit workers should be supported, adding people fail to understand that unions improve working conditions for all people.

"The more unionized workers there are, the better it is for everyone in our society," said McGregor, who has been a member of a government union for two years. "Unionized workplaces set the pace for wages, rights, (and) job protection. Their struggle is my struggle and for all working class Winnipeggers."

Union, city meet today

Negotiators with Local 1505 Amalgamated Transit Union and city hall met this morning, with the help of a provincially appointed conciliator.

The two sides last met on Tuesday, when the union modified part of its wage proposals.

The dispute has centred on wages. The ATU says the Winnipeg transit drivers and mechanics are among the lowest paid in their trade across the country.

There is a $7.46 per hour wage gap between bus drivers in Winnipeg and their counterparts at Edmonton Transit; and a $17.60 per hour wage gap between mechanics in Winnipeg and those at Edmonton Transit.

The city has offered a four-year deal to the union, with an 8 per cent wage increase for drivers and 8.81 per cent increase for mechanics.

The union had countered with a three-year-deal calling for a 10.34 per cent wage increase, plus an additional $1 per hour annual top up for mechanics.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Aldo Santin.

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History

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 12:07 PM CDT: Corrects wage gap.

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