News / Calgary

Union up in arms over Calgary Transit Zero Based Review

The third-party review of Calgary Transit proposed contracting out janitorial positions which the Amalgamated Transit Union 583 was against

The results are in for Calgary Transit's Zero Based Review, and the Amalgamated Transit Union isn't pleased with one of the recommendations.

Metro File Photo

The results are in for Calgary Transit's Zero Based Review, and the Amalgamated Transit Union isn't pleased with one of the recommendations.

While one hand of the City of Calgary is busy looking for efficiency in Calgary Transit’s operations – the union translates it another way: cuts.

On Monday, councillors are set to hear the results of Calgary Transit’s Zero Based Review, and how it will save the city $5.3 million.  

But the Amalgamated Transit Union 583 is hoping to have the report tabled, or thrown out completely.

Two recommendations, one that administration and the committee accepted, included “outsourcing” janitorial and outdoor maintenance jobs to private contractors. This, if accepted, would save Calgary Transit $2.7 million.

In a letter, posted on the 583 website, president Rick Ratcliffe urged union members to show up for Monday’s meeting where the fate of these positions will be discussed.

“We need the Councillors to see the faces of the members that were told through the media they would be facing the loss of their jobs,” read Ratcliff’s letter. “The best case scenario on June 20th is Council defeats the report. This is highly unlikely but it could be tabled, referred, etc.”

Since the report was heard before committee last week, members of the ATU have been working to reach out to councillors, and even scored a meeting with Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Coun. Ward Sutherland said the ZBR reviews are independent and don’t have “any skin in the game.” They look at best practices to see what can be done to save money.   

“Their comeback was private companies won’t care, they won’t do the same quality job – that’s their entire comeback,” said Sutherland. “I’m from the business world, we contract out all the time. What they were basically saying when I asked them is if you don’t have a union badge on you won’t have pride and don’t care – that’s not a valid comeback.”

Sutherland said there are 80 jobs on the line and administration also approved the recommendation. He said he appreciates the fact that unions are businesses like anyone else. Their fighting the cut is a normal practice.

Coun. Joe Magliocca, who also met with the union, said he thinks they should have been consulted about the ZBR. But is waiting for Monday’s debate to decide on administration’s recommendations.

“If this Local cannot change Council’s direction on the ZBR we will have to look at other measures to make things right for our impacted members” read the letter. “We know Calgary Transit wants to come to a reasonable resolve as well.”

Metro attempted to contact the union for clarification, but phone calls were not returned by press time.

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