May 25, 2019

Winnipeg
9° C, Light drizzle

Full Forecast

Transit union sounds alarm over staff turnover

The union that represents the largest number of Winnipeg Transit employees says management appears unconcerned about a turnover rate among its members that has reached an alarming rate.

Aleem Chaudhary, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, said the number who quit or resign annually has now reached 10 per cent.

“Transit is losing people with experience and it’s taking a toll,” Chaudhary said this week. “They should have the exit interviews to discover what’s going on. Those are the kinds of things we want to get to the bottom of. This is something that has to be addressed. It’s been going on for such a long time.”

Local 1505 represents about 1,460 Transit employees, with 1,000 of them employed as drivers and the rest employed as mechanics and building and vehicle maintenance staff.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

The union that represents the largest number of Winnipeg Transit employees says management appears unconcerned about a turnover rate among its members that has reached an alarming rate.

Aleem Chaudhary, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, said the number who quit or resign annually has now reached 10 per cent.

Aleem Chaudhary President of the Amalgamated Transit Union: 'Transit is losing people with experience and it’s taking a toll'

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Aleem Chaudhary President of the Amalgamated Transit Union: 'Transit is losing people with experience and it’s taking a toll'

"Transit is losing people with experience and it’s taking a toll," Chaudhary said this week. "They should have the exit interviews to discover what’s going on. Those are the kinds of things we want to get to the bottom of. This is something that has to be addressed. It’s been going on for such a long time."

Local 1505 represents about 1,460 Transit employees, with 1,000 of them employed as drivers and the rest employed as mechanics and building and vehicle maintenance staff.

Chaudhary said the union had lobbied Transit management to conduct exit interviews for more than a year before it agreed last month to undertake them. However, he said the union has not seen any sign Transit is acting on that commitment.

The union said seven members resigned in the past month, and none were involved in exit interviews.

The Free Press requested an interview with a Transit official on the issue. Instead, a Transit spokeswoman replied in a statement that interviews are routinely conducted with staff who have quit.

"Winnipeg Transit operations supervisors meet with operators who are leaving their positions to determine their reason for doing so. That information is logged and tracked," the spokeswoman said in an email to the Free Press.

Turnover

Click to Expand

March 2018- March 2019

Membership: 1,460

Resignations: 138 (9 per cent)

March 2017-March 2018

Membership: 1,457

Resignations: 87 (6 per cent)

March 2016-March 2017

Membership: 1,436 ()

Resignations: 117 (8 per cent)

-- Source: Amalgamated Transit Union 

That position was not supported by minutes of union-management meetings provided to the Free Press by the ATU.

According to a series of meeting minutes, Transit human resources manager Todd Slatnik indicates he is receptive to initiating exit interviews, stating they used to be done and it would be a good idea.

For example, from April 2018: "Todd confirmed this was done in the past and can follow up with corporate HR if there are plans to resume this practice. Todd to provide an update next month."

From August 2018: "Todd to follow up provide an update next month — No new updates at this time… will continue to discuss at HRLG. Todd to draft the few questions we would like to ask and review with ATU."

The Transit spokeswoman later clarified its policy, one day after being told the Free Press was aware of the union-management meeting minutes, casting doubt on Transit having committing to an official exit interview process, as Chaudhary said.

"We don't have a formal exit interview process, we have an informal process," the spokeswoman said in a second email. "The informal process we have in place provides us with the information needed for tracking purposes relating to employees’ reasons for leaving."

A second request from the Free Press for an interview with a Transit official garnered no response.

Transit strike possible: city

City officials have raised the possibility of a strike by Winnipeg Transit employees — a scenario the transit union is trying to minimize.

The City of Winnipeg issued a statement Thursday saying it has presented a tentative offer to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, which represents about 1,460 employees, which, if rejected, "will provide the union with a strike mandate."

However, Local 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary said its members can reject the city's offer, with a strike mandate requiring a second vote.

City officials have raised the possibility of a strike by Winnipeg Transit employees — a scenario the transit union is trying to minimize.

The City of Winnipeg issued a statement Thursday saying it has presented a tentative offer to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, which represents about 1,460 employees, which, if rejected, "will provide the union with a strike mandate."

However, Local 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary said its members can reject the city's offer, with a strike mandate requiring a second vote.

"It is unfortunate that the City of Winnipeg feels the need to bring negotiations between the city and the ATU 1505 into the public for the second time in four years," he said in a statement released Thursday by the union.

"If the City of Winnipeg felt that they had made a fair offer to our membership, then we sincerely doubt that they would be releasing public statements regarding the proposal to the media and general public."

Chaudhary said if the members reject the offer, he expects bargaining would resume.

The collective agreement between Local 1505 and the city expired Jan. 12.

Union members will vote on the new deal next week, with final results expected to released April 5.

Among the 1,460 Local 1505 members, about 1,000 are Transit drivers, with rest employed as mechanics, building and vehicle maintenance staff.

Chaudhary said with increasing incidents of assaults, both verbal and physical, on drivers, the job has become extremely stressful.

Transit credited part of its $13.6-million surplus in 2018 to an unexpected number of employee resignations and retirements, which it said amounted to $5.1 million in savings.

Winnipeg city council allocated $3.1 million of the surplus to cover the installation of driver shields on all buses. Transit staff told a council committee late last year it preferred to see the surplus assigned to a capital reserve account.

Chaudhary said additional monies should have been set aside for enhanced training, as the workforce is increasingly comprised of inexperienced employees.

He also said any exit interviews should be done by an independent third party.

"Nobody is going to say to the employer, in a face-to-face, why they’re leaving. Not honestly, anyway," Chaudhary said. "Especially if they have any hostility or any kind of feelings towards the company."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

Read full biography

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

ABOVE THE FOLD