York Regional Council calls for mediated bargaining and an immediate return of transit service
NEWMARKET – York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch today announced York Regional Council will not request the Provincial Government to enact back-to-work legislation or support arbitration as a means to end the current YRT/Viva labour dispute.
At a press conference at the York Region Administrative Centre, Chairman Fisch said Council is sending a clear and strong message to the Region’s contracted operators Miller Transit, First Canada and York BRT Services and ATU Local 1587 and ATU Local 113 that neither back-to-work legislation or arbitration are an acceptable answer to a refusal to negotiate.
Regional Council will not intervene in the current dispute between the contractors and unions and will not become involved in any negotiations, which could lead to extraordinary tax rate increases for all regional residents, higher transit fares for commuters, or both. Council continues to insist on a return to negotiations using previously appointed mediators and an immediate restoration of service.
"York Region wants a fair deal for bus drivers and mechanics, but not at the expense of our taxpayers," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. "The reality of the union’s current wage demands would mean a $26 annual increase for the typical York Region property taxpayer or an additional 45-cent fare increase for transit riders. By imposing a great deal of hardship on the ridership and community they serve, the unions have turned on the very people they are asking to foot the bill for their demands."
York Region is not the employer in this labour dispute. Union calls for the Region to change its business model and act as the employer would not remove the risk of future strikes, or make it possible to meet 20-per cent union wage demands. A request for arbitration without meaningful negotiation is an effort to circumvent the collective bargaining process – demanding higher subsidies from taxpayers and riders.
In 2011, York Region directed $180 million to public transit; our second largest budget item next to York Regional Police. Property taxes already subsidize 63 per cent of the cost for YRT/Viva service at a cost of $340 a year for the average household. Only 37 per cent of the costs are recovered through transit fares. Contracted service delivery has proven to be the most effective way of providing the service, and the Region could not provide a publicly owned transit service for a lower cost to the taxpayer and rider.
"In more than 30 years of transit service operation in York Region, we have never witnessed such a complete disregard for the negotiation process at the expense of our residents, families and businesses," added Chairman Fisch. "It is unacceptable to purposely leverage the personal agendas of a few at the expense of so many. Regional Council will protect the interests of the taxpayers and riders that finance transit."
YRT/Viva continues to assist transit riders with travel options through the Customer Service Centre at 1-866-MOVE-YRT (668-3978). Ongoing updates are available on www.yrt.ca
Residents can also follow York Region on Twitter @YorkRegionGovt and Facebook www.facebook.com/YorkRegion
- 30 -
Media Contact: Patrick Casey, Director, Corporate Communications, York Region