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Solidarity with York region transit workers

Philip Murton

January 10, 2012

In late December, York Region Transit workers met to consider the most recent offer from the company. They refused to even vote on the offer. One member said:

“Let’s send this back to (York Regional Chairman) Fisch with our compliments of the season.”

A very impressive show of militancy and solidarity, these workers have been on strike since October.

The key issue in this strike is pay. Workers are asking for wages to be closer to Toronto transit workers. Currently, there is $7 per hour difference. York Region Transit is run by three private companies—Viva, Millar and First Canada—so any increases in pay would affect their profits.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 represents the Viva workers. ATU Local 1587 represents the others workers.

From the second week, the unions have proposed binding arbitration knowing that they are likely to do better than the 11 per cent offer over four years.

The call for arbitration has been consistently rejected by the York Regional Chariman Bill Fisch.

The clear answer to this strike is to call for solidarity with the workers but also to call for a public transit system in York Region.

To quote from Toronto Labour Council: “It is time to remove these middlemen that have no concern for the people of this region, and create a truly public transit system. One that is accountable to the public, and run in the interests solely of the public. One where everyone can see that every public dollar goes to improved service, not some profit line….”

The militancy and solidarity of these workers need and deserve our support—let us see what we can do.

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