Amalgamated Transit Union, Canadian Council

Amalgamated Transit Union, Canadian Council

October 05, 2005 09:51 ET

Transit Union Criticizes CUPE’s Double Standard

The Amalgamated Transit Union-Canada is perplexed by the lack of support from CUPE locals in ATU Local 1182's effort to join the City of Saint John pension plan. Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Transportation Editor MISSISSAUGA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 5, 2005) - The Director of the Canadian Council of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Ken Foster, is "shocked" by the Canadian Union of Public Employees' support for New Brunswick casual workers after they rejected a request for help, by ATU Local 1182 in Saint John, to enter the City of Saint John pension plan. Mr. Foster recently requested a meeting with Bob Davidson, CUPE's regional director, and CUPE flatly rejected the transit union's overture. The next day, however, CUPE announced it was moving full-speed-ahead on a lawsuit against the NB government because of abuses suffered by casual workers in that province. "On the one hand CUPE champions the plight of casual workers and, on the other, they ignore transit workers in Saint John who have been stone-walled by their municipal government employer for five years!" explains Mr. Foster. "We empathize with the problems facing casual workers, but we cannot understand why CUPE would slam the door on the transit union," said Mr. Foster. "Are not CUPE union members our brothers and sisters in the fight for fair labour practices? CUPE left ATU 1182 to fight its battle in the courts when we could have supported each other." The City of Saint John has indicated that if ATU 1182 had the support of the International Association of Fire Fighter's Union 771, Saint John Police Union Local 61, Inside Workers Union 18 and Outside Workers Local 486 there would be no need to fight for a fair pension in court.

The City of Saint John Pension Board has engaged in a game of semantics in claiming that the transit workers are not City employees because they belong to a "transit commission." It is, however, well documented that the bus drivers have been employed by the city-run commission since 1979. The ATU and the City of Saint John Pension Board have wasted thousands of dollars fighting in court over whether the transit workers should be allowed to share in the city's pension plan. Last year, a Court of Queens Bench judge ruled that the New Brunswick Superintendent of Pensions does not have the power to make a decision on that issue. The transit union has a hearing to appeal that decision on November 23, 2005. Mr. Foster also noted that the City of Saint John is now looking for ways to transform the city's administration of the plan. "Allowing ATU Local 1182 into the City of Saint John pension plan would help to offset Saint John's pension plan solvency deficit by contributing $7.5 million in premiums over the next 15 years. This is not a cash grab on our part but, rather, we offer part of the solution to the problem." ATU 1182 has even offered to be exempt from their employer's long-term disability benefits and would enter the pension plan as new members. "The ATU has been professional, flexible and open with its communications, yet ATU Local 1182 cannot get any support from CUPE locals. What has become of labour solidarity when respected unions are left to duke it out in the courts like corporate managers?" asked Mr. Foster. IN: LABOUR, TRANSPORT

Contact Information

  • Ken Foster, Director
    Primary Phone: 416-346-1572
    Secondary Phone: 905-670-4710