October 5th 2014 Press Release
ATU 615 Press Release- October 5, 2014
Here are the facts and truth with regards to the status of pension and wage discussions. Firstly, with regards to the pension. On May 15, 2014 Marno Mcinnes sent a letter to the chairman of the pension plan Ray Parsley , stating that ATU 615 has rejected the cities final offer on May,7 2014 and suggests to the chair of the plan that the board will have to refile and rescind the previous valuation and replace it with a new valuation reflecting no changes to ATU 615 members pension plan. On June 13, 2014 Mr. Ray Parsley responded in a letter stating that they have rescinded and refiled a revised valuation reflecting no changes to ATU 615 members pension. In Ray Parsleys letter to all parties he states that the city acknowledges the liability and must make payments at least until a new valuation is to be filed. ATU 615 sent a letter to the Chair of the pension plan on July 29, 2014 stating that we are in receipt of the revised valuation and letter stating that our benefits will remain unchanged and that the city will be making payments retroactive to Jan.1,2014. ATU 615 has been threatened at the bargaining table that if the city makes these payments then the availability of back pay could be lost. We have stated in our letter to the chair of the pension plan to simply let us know when you have completed the necessary arrangements for the city to initiate the payments. The city now is stating that discussing our pension plan at the bargaining table was nonnegotiable. They simply are assuming we do not have to discuss pensions at all and they have gone on record stating that the union is changing our position on pension. There is nothing further from the truth. We suggested at the time that we could potentially agree to those changes but the wage proposal must be better if we were to recommend these changes to our membership. No agreement was signed and obviously now, we are all aware that our pension plan is in a much different financial situation today ,then when we first started bargaining. Upon reading the attached letters, you will find that the above statements are accurate. You can decide for yourself what is factual and what is not. You are also aware that the city locked our members out and changed their position on simply leaving our pension plan unchanged, and proceeded to impose those changes through city council on Sept.22, 2014. At the time they felt they were in a legal lockout position and hence made the changes with the intent that the only way we would be allowed back to work is if we accepted these pension changes. It is our belief based on the advice of a reputable legal office who received advice from a reputable actuarial firm that our pension plan today is in a surplus position and that if brought current, it would show that the need for any special payments would not exist. All that would need to happen is for the plan to be updated with a most recent valuation to include all the plans assets up to date and the taxpayers would not have any special payments. Keep in Mind the reasons the city used to initiate this lockout. They used the fact that this need for a special payment existed, but could have easily remedied that problem by asking the board of trustees to simply refile a new valuation showing current assets.
On the issue of wages. Our last position at the table is as follows. We put forth a proposal on Feb.14, 2014 asking for our Access members operators (38 positions) to be paid the same rate as our conventional operators. Currently they are paid $3.25 hr. less than our conventional operators. It is our belief that they deserve the same pay scale as the work they do is equally valued. The cities of Red Deer and Lethbridge agree as they have or will have wage parity between their operators before their agreements expire. Our Access operators earn$20.60 hr. currently. Our Access Scheduling and booking clerks (9 positions) are underpaid in comparison to our Dispatch area that has very similar duties at conventional transit and our proposal is to raise their rate of pay as well. It appears that there is money to hire 2 full time additional supervisors but in order to do that, the city has reduced service to the public. 65 hours per week have been cut from service at Access in comparison to last year at this time due to budgetary reasons. The same amounts of people continue to work there but they added 2 full time supervisor positions. Our proposal also contained wage adjustments for all journeyman trade positions to coincide with our mechanic pay scale. This includes our journeyman bodyman and machinist positions. (8 positions). We have also included our payroll discrepancy wage rates at transit in comparison to other city departments and are seeking adjustments to our ATU payroll wage rates.
These wage adjustments would be implemented starting Jan.1, 2015. In addition to these wage adjustments our last position to the city was to not pursue the western Canadian averaging formula but to simply have a 65 cents an hour increase for all members starting Jan.1, 2015. We have also stated a further wage adjustment starting in Jan.2016 of one dollar per hour for all classifications would essentially have our operator rate of pay at $27.95 per hour starting Jan.2016. Currently today the western average wage rate as of now is $28.18. This does not take into account that all 6 of these comparison cities will have new wage rates for 2016. This is basing this on today’s numbers as of now. ATU initially proposed the averaging formula and also proposed to the city that we would be interested in a 5 year contract. It appears that they are not interested in a 5 year deal hence we have removed that option from the table. These are the accurate facts surrounding what ATU 615 is seeking for our members. Our defined benefit pension plan is in good financial shape and as always our members are willing to discuss ways to ensure viability of the plan. Having clearly defined benefits for retirement security is what we have had since 1963 and we are resolved to retain the structure as such.
ATU 615 members have received overwhelming support both morally and financially from local unions and labor associations and as well from across the country . ATU international supports our fight to protect retirement security for our future and present members. We have been kicked out of the workplace and our members as well as the citizens of Saskatoon are being deprived of a service as a result of the city administration decision. ATU will be heading to the Labor board on Oct.14,2014 to prove to the citizens of Saskatoon that this lockout is not legal. We are prepared to stand up for what is fair as long as it takes and the truth will prevail.
President/Business Agent Local 615